10,000 without power as storm Callum hits
Fallen trees and power lines combined with heavy rain cause disruption on farms while weather warnings remain in place for the north-west.

It was a difficult morning milking in Ireland's dairy heartland after storm Callum began to move across the country overnight, shattering trees and power lines.

Of a peak of 60,000 customers disconnected at 4am, ESB Networks said 30,000 were still without power at 7am. Efforts continued to repair lines through the day, with the 10,000 remaining without electricity at noon expected to be reconnected by the end of the day. Most were in a band stretching across the southern half of the country from counties Kerry, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick, Mayo and Monaghan.

"We are particularly appealing to farmers and landowners to be vigilant as fallen trees or branches may have fallen on, or be leaning against electricity wires," a spokesperson for ESB Networks said. "Please do not approach or touch the wires, trees or branches, as they are extremely dangerous. Report immediately to 1850 372 999."

Eir said that around 3,000 fixed telephone line customers were disconnected by the storm too.

There were reports of multiple road closures in the same regions. AA Roadwatch warned of fallen trees blocking a number of roads and a mudslide cutting off the road between Cobh and Fota in Co Cork.

Gardaí added warnings of fallen trees and debris in Co Meath as the storm moved north on Friday morning.

A meeting of the Government's National Emergency Coordination Group on Friday morning issued a statement noting that "storm Callum tracked as forecast by Met Éireann with the worst of the storm affecting the west coast and fortunately did not hit in all areas as hard as it could have, resulting in minimal disruption". The group was stood down following the meeting.

The Teagasc/Glanbia farm walk scheduled today in Co Waterford has been cancelled as a result of the storm.

Met Éireann recorded the strongest winds along the west and south coasts, with gusts of over 100km/h in Co Cork and Co Kerry in the small hours of Friday. Gusts of 119km/h were recorded on Valentia Island at midnight.

As the storm tracked north, the coasts of Co Galway and Co Mayo were hit later in the morning, with gusts of 124km/h at Belmullet at 8am.

Met Éireann updated previous weather warnings at 9:30am on Friday morning, keeping a status orange alert in place until 4pm for counties Donegal, Galway, Mayo and Sligo. A status yellow warning is in place in Northern Ireland until midnight on Friday. Alerts have been lifted for other areas. Heavy rainfall is forecast to continue after the storm abates.

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The farmer's daily wrap: protest outside TB forum and BPS opens
Here is your news round-up of the top five farming stories today, Wednesday 20 February 2019.

Weather

It will be cloudy and misty on Wednesday night, with a little drizzle and light rain in places. Some fog along hills and coasts. Temperatures will range from 8°C to 11°C, with south to southeast winds mostly moderate or fresh in strength. However, winds will be strong at times along coasts.

Thursday is set to be a mostly dry and blustery day, but a little drizzle or mist may occur along south and west coasts. A good deal of cloud overall but a few bright spells will break through at times. South to southeast winds will be mostly moderate to fresh in strength, but it will be gusty in parts of the south and west, before becoming increasingly windy by evening time in the southwest and west. Mild, with highs of 11°C to 14°C.

High Seas will lead to the risk of some coastal flooding.

In the news

  • Applications to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) for 2019 opened on Wednesday.
  • The Beef Plan Movement held a protest outside a TB stakeholder forum meeting that was held at the Department of Agriculture’s Backweston Campus.
  • Meanwhile, inside the meeting farm bodies opposed the tighter TB controls which the Department put on the table.
  • Despite opposition from residents, the Supreme Court has upheld An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning permission for the North-South Interconnector.
  • And, shares in Glanbia surged on the back of strong 2018 results.
    Weekly podcast: roadmap for the beef sector and turning weeds into cash
    In this week's podcast, we report from the National Farmer's Union conference in the UK and the Agri Careers Expo in the RDS.

     

    Click here to download this week's podcast.

    With less than 900 hours to go until Brexit, Hannah Quinn Mulligan spoke to farmers in England at the National Farmers Union annual conference in Birmingham

    Addressing the NFU conference on Tuesday, UK secretary for the Environment Michael Gove said that there will be no zero-rate tariffs on agricultural goods post-Brexit and no hardening of the border in Ireland.

    Irish farmers are increasingly concerned about the future of the Irish beef industry. News correspondent Barry Cassidy spoke to IFA Sligo chair JP Cowley who has been farming suckler cows for over 40 years.

    Responding to these concerns, the chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture committee Pat Deering told us that the group is currently working on a roadmap for the beef sector.

    This week Bord Bia announced changes to the feedback farmers will receive from their Quality Assurance audits, news correspondent Thomas Hubert asked the Director of Origin Green Michael Moloney for more information.

    Thomas Hubert also met Derek Milton of Miltcon Services and Bernard Carey of the Biomass to Biochar project to discuss the conversion of rushes and bracken into valuable carbon products.

    And finally, Tyrone farmer Kenny Little is taking part in the Belfast, Edinburgh and Dublin marathons this year to raise money for three different charities. Tracey Donaghey caught up with Kenny to find out how he is feeling ahead of the challenge and why he has decided to do the marathons wearing a boiler suit and yellow wellies.

    Missed the previous episodes of the podcast? Catch up here!

    Supreme Court upholds North-South pylon plan despite opposition from residents
    Despite opposition from residents, the Supreme Court has upheld An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning permission for the North-South Interconnector.

    Affected residents in Monaghan, Cavan and Meath say they will continue to oppose the North-South Interconnector, despite the Supreme Court upholding planning approval for the southern section of the project.

    Planning for the project was initially granted by An Bord Pleanala in December 2016. Since then it has been the subject to judicial review proceedings.

    These were dismissed by the High Court in August 2017 but the judgement was appealed, which culminated in the case being brought to the Supreme Court.

    Liam Ryan, director of grid development and interconnection at EirGrid, said it was pleased the project had cleared “all of the planning and legal hurdles in Ireland”.

    He added EirGrid is hopeful the same could be achieved in Northern Ireland in the coming months.

    Opposition

    Residents who are opposed to the interconnector say the Supreme Court rulings change nothing.

    In a statement the North East Pylon Pressure (NEPP) group said: “The ruling today is very much related to the An Bord Pleanála approval in 2016. It does not address or have any impact on the ongoing issues facing Eirgrid and ESB.

    “The two key issues in relation to the challenges ahead – those related to access to landowners’ properties and the impact of Brexit on the future status of the project – were not considered by the court.”

    NEPP contends that the original planning application did not request permission for access routes.

    “No agreement for access exists at landowner level. Any attempts by ESB and EirGrid to request the local authorities to vary any of the conditions imposed will be challenged by landowners, one by one, at the appropriate time.

    “Now is the time to stand firm. Eirgrid and ESB will try to divide and conquer by making a big deal out of today’s ruling,” NEPP said.

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    High Court rules against landowners in North-South Interconnector case