A 70-YEAR-OLD dairy firm boss will start a cross-border walk on Thursday morning from Meath to Tyrone as part of his campaign against a raft of new electricity pylons.
John Woods will set out at 9am today from Batterstown, close to Dublin, and walk to Moy – following roughly the same route as a proposed cross-border electricity network.
He hopes to raise money and awareness of the group he helped found, Safe Electricity for Armagh and Tyrone (SEAT), which claims the planned pylons would despoil the countryside and cause health risks to the public.
Mr Woods, the head of a Co Tyrone dairy business, will make the trek over the course of three days, arriving at his destination at around 4.30pm on Saturday.
He will start at 9am each day, and wrap up at around 6pm – then go back home to sleep before starting the following day where he left off.
Following him on his journey will be a trailer carrying a 14ft metal pylon which he has had built specially for the occasion, mimicking the far larger real-life structures.
“I’ve been training hard and I’m quite confident that I’ll raise the profile of the project and will raise money to meet the expenses of the public enquiry hearing costs.
“I believe I’m forecast for three good days. It’s going to be a challenge – but I’ve no intention of not succeeding.”
Asked how his firm is going to survive without its head for a few days, he said he will delegate to his other managers – but will be back in the saddle again soon after, despite being five years past retirement age.
“I don’t believe in retirement,” he said. “I feel that we are a species that has to be continually challenged.”
A local songsmith has even penned a tune to mark Mr Woods’ journey.
Van driver Pascal Hughes has recorded a version of the Johnny Cash song Walk the Line – recrafted to be about the campaign to stop the 400 kilowatt pylon project.
He said: “I put pen to paper and the words just came spilling out. I really wanted to show my support and admiration for John and the hard work of all the SEAT members as well as highlighting the important campaign issues.
“I’m hoping my unusual rendition of Walk the Line will generate even more community backing for John and his walk as he continues to help SEAT drive the campaign forward.”
The aim of the campaign is to put the proposed cross-border power lines underground, instead of above ground.
Earlier this year the public enquiry was put on hold whilst Northern Ireland Electricity withdrew their plans, because they had not been properly publicised. It plans to submit them again in the first half of next year.
The whole scheme is being done jointly with EirGrid, the Republic’s state electricity firm, and would see 102 pylons placed in Northern Ireland alone.