ESB facing €3.5m in compensation claims from landowners for power-cables project

ESB powerlines. File photo

The ESB is facing compensation claims for €3.5m from property owners whose land is needed to run power cables for the national infrastructure.

Some €1.9m has already been paid in up-front payments to landowners affected by the 24km Kinnegad to Mullingar line, it says.

One landowner along that line, who has already accepted a €66,000 payment for "flexibility of access" to his property has put in a claim for nearly 10 times that amount, the ESB says.

Now the ESB wants the Commercial Court to rule on whether the €66,000 payment can be taken into account by an arbitrator who has been appointed to decide Kenneth Payne's €640,500 claim for access to his land in Co Meath.

ESB landowner engagement manager, Colm Smyth, says in an affidavit, the cost of this compensation "directly impacts on the cost of electricity".

He says the ESB is experiencing "a substantial growth" in such claims and for requests that they be sent for arbitration. Some €3.5m in claims have already been received.

In the Payne case, the ESB asked arbitrator Desmond Boyle, who was appointed to deal with the claim, to state a case to the High Court on whether the €66,000 should be taken into account in assessing compensations.

Mr Boyle decided it was inappropriate for him to do so.

The ESB then brought its own case to the High Court seeking the matter be adjudicated on in order to bring clarity to the situation.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton admitted the case to the fast-track Commercial Court after he said it was effectively a test case on an important, but discrete, point.

The judge was also told the arbitrator, Mr Boyle, was not taking part in the proceedings as his position was akin to that of a District Judge who would also not be party to such cases.

Mr Justice Haughton said he would welcome the arbitrator reconsidering his position as, otherwise, there would be no proper opponent in the case.

He adjourned the matter to next June.



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