High Voltage Pylons Would Bring End to Horse Breeding and Training
High voltage pylons (towers) and wind turbines are the biggest threats to Irish bloodstock in the history of the industry and will make thousands of acres of prime horse-breeding land “unfit for purpose”. That’s what Annemarie O’Brien, wife of champion trainer Aidan O’Brien recently said about EirGrid’s controversial proposed GridWest project that would bring pylons and overhead high voltage power lines into the heartland of the Irish bloodstock industry (Independent).
Balldoyle in Tipperary, where Aidan O’Brien has trained the winners of 5 Epsom Derbys, 11 Irish Derbys and numerous other classics, is the training arm of the Coolmore syndicate headed up by billionaire John Magnier. Critics of the above-ground GridWest project are pleased the wealthy bloodstock syndicate has joined the anti-pylon and wind farm lobby.
Ms. O’Brien recently pointed out the “huge financial impact on the industry” which directly employs more than 14,000 people, as well as a supply chain of ancillary goods and services including farmers, feed merchants, vets, farriers and other vital rural jobs. She added, “There are many risks associated with wind farms and pylons. Low flying helicopters checking the lines, corona and low frequency noise, magnetic fields and unrestricted access to crews for the repair and maintenance of turbines and pylons would pose huge disease control issues for stud owners.” O’Brien recently wrote in a local newspaper, “The scale of the threat to heartland Irish industries such as bloodstock, tourism and agriculture and to all electricity bill payers from yet more costly, subsidized wind farms, and pylon blight…is only just revealing itself.”
O’Brien wrote that wind turbines and overhead high voltage power lines are simply incompatible with the breeding and training of thoroughbred racehorses which are sensitive animals that would perceive such infrastructure as danger, thereby leading to unwanted flight reaction.
Former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness is chairing an independent panel that is examining the feasibility of placing the EirGrid transmission lines underground, which would essentially eliminate the negative impacts of overhead lines and pylons.