The recent case of the ESB fears in Ireland has raised concerns that it could lead to a spike in court claims due to overhead power lines. The legal battle between ESB and a group of residents who fear their health may be impacted by proximity to the lines has shed light on the potential risks associated with living near high-voltage cables. This case could be a precedent-setting event in terms of negligence claims against electric companies, and is expected to have far-reaching implications for the industry. In this article, we will examine the background of the ESB fears case, the potential implications it may have for future litigation, and how this could shape the way companies approach the installation and maintenance of overhead power lines in the future.
The ESB is concerned that they may have to pay out millions of euros if they are sued for allowing power lines over private land without a clear determination of the time limit for bringing a claim. This issue arose in a High Court case where a landowner sought compensation seven years after the power line was installed on his property. The court is being asked to determine the applicable time limit under the Statute of Limitations Act 1957 for bringing such claims. The case concerns a power line installed for the Gorman-Meath Hill line over lands in Meath Hill, Co Meath. Vincent Callan is the claimant, acting as the legal representative of the estate of Edward Callan, and the claim for compensation was made in 2018. The ESB raised the issue of the claim’s validity under the Statute of Limitations Act. Property arbitrator Paul Good was appointed, and in July 2020, he asked the court to determine whether the Act applied to statutory arbitrations related to land acquisition and the ESB’s power under the law to enter land. The ESB was granted permission by the court to have the case dealt with in the fast track Commercial Court, given its implications for a significant number of similar claims. The ESB’s solicitor, Avril Keogh, stated that it was crucial to determine the applicable time limit, given that there are over 180,000km of electricity lines in the country, and the right to compensation was established by the Supreme Court 35 years ago. The ESB believes that claimants should be incentivized to bring claims as soon as possible, as evidence will become less reliable and more challenging to secure over time. Ms. Keogh added that with the high volume of claims involved and the significant costs associated with arbitrations, determining the applicable limitation is vital to resolving these claims in a fair and timely manner.
As concerns continue to grow around the potential health risks associated with electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by overhead power lines, the recent ESB fears case has only added fuel to the fire. The decision made by the Supreme Court to uphold the award of damages to a former ESB employee is sure to have far-reaching consequences, and many are predicting that it will spark a wave of similar court claims.
While the scientific evidence surrounding EMFs is still inconclusive, one thing is certain: the health and wellbeing of individuals should always be a priority. With this case now shining a spotlight on the potential risks posed by overhead power lines, it’s crucial that companies like the ESB take steps to mitigate any potential dangers.
At the same time, it’s also important that individuals feel empowered to speak out if they believe that their health and wellbeing have been compromised. If you have concerns about the impact of overhead lines on your health, don’t hesitate to seek out advice and support from qualified experts. And as always, stay informed and stay safe.