Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby MrX » Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:22 am

I am based in Cork and I am pretty horrified at the state of some of the overhead ESB low voltage distribution cabling in some of the most architecturally significant parts of the city.

There are incrediably ugly messes of relatively modern black overhead wires, particularly junctions (rather than straight runs) in areas like Wellington Road, and even blocking views of Shandon.

There are also lots of sagging 4-stack wires which are now sheathed in some kind of insulating material which makes them incredibly ugly looking. Obviously the wires are over-capacity, warm and sagging.

They wouldn't even be so bad if they were the original 1930s runs of straight, neat overhead wires on properly painted poles. It's like they've been retrofitted with big heavy multi-core cables that are an absolute eyesore.

(I will post some pictures over the next few days)

I was just wondering is there anything in the planning laws to prevent ESB from putting these hideous messes in the middle of what should be pleasant urban space.

Also, many of the ESB poles in the city are left unpainted and rusting. It's absolutely disgusting. It's like it has no respect whatsoever for the urban environment and just plonks anything anywhere.

There are plenty of eircom wires overhead too, although because these are smaller they're less obtrusive.

Is this the case in other urban areas in Ireland, or is it unique to Cork ?
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby Chris_533976 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:36 pm

Its pretty general. ESB dont want to have to pay to put them underground, neither does anyone else. So they will remain :(
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby johnglas » Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:10 pm

Thank God somebody else has noticed them! They are very bad in Cork, but I noticed them being very obtrusive in Galway and still many small town centres seem disfigured by them. They're a real turn-ff (if you'll pardon the pun!) and they do nothing whatsoever for townscape.
And, while we're at it, how can you justify 'restoring' a building, while leaving wires trailing all over the facade, many of them probably redundant (Dublin is especially bad for this)? The ESB should have a rolling programme for the removal of surface wires in town centres, not to mention the terminally ugly poles supporting them.
If you want to know what historic town centres 'really' look like, look at a photograph from c. 1900.
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby MrX » Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:45 pm

What has made them about 100 times worse is that the old poles have been retrofitted with some kind of very thick black cable.

The original systems would have had 4 or 5 thin, uninsulated wires on glass insulators. These looked pretty unobtrusive, more like overhead tram wiring e.g. on the luas.

This was replaced with hideous quadruplex cable and at junctions they just seem to crudely join the cables leaving a big spiraling mess.

I've seem similar messes in the United States, but I think Ireland must be one of the very few countries in Western Europe with this kind of stuff in city and town centres.
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby Radioactiveman » Wed Jul 01, 2009 2:02 pm

The ESB have recently been fitting large, clumsy, metal reinforcements to the base of many of their metal poles in Cork. Presumably this is happening elsewhere also. Mainly, it seems to avoid replacing poles which are rusting badly at the base due to water (and dog p*ss) damage. They only add to the general ugliness.
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby damproof » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:32 am

The ESB are not one bit concerned about the visual impact of their wires. i agree it can be desperate looking. Its usually left to local authorities to underground all service wires at once though this is an expensive and disruptive process. You'll notice many of the commercial areas in town centres around the country that have had the wires undergrounded in the last few years and more that haven't, but due to the cost i wouldn't be expecting any mature inner city residential neighbourhoods to be getting sorted any time soon. That said if you are concerned about any areas in particular it might be worth dropping a quick email to cork city council and see what they come back with.
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby KeepAnEyeOnBob » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:55 am

damproof wrote: You'll notice many of the commercial areas in town centres around the country that have had the wires undergrounded in the last few years and more that haven't, but due to the cost i wouldn't be expecting any mature inner city residential neighbourhoods to be getting sorted any time soon. That said if you are concerned about any areas in particular it might be worth dropping a quick email to cork city council and see what they come back with.


Hmmm... spot the difference... who pays rates and who doesn't? While the old domestic rates system and some of the alternatives tried in the UK aren't any good, the authorities need to sort out some sort of alternative to provide local income to LAs (plus voters would be less lenient on LA shenangins if they were more directly footing the bill). Preferably some solution that is both property value-based and income-based, the latter providing boundaries on what would be paid.
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby damproof » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:32 am

KeepAnEyeOnBob wrote:Hmmm... spot the difference... who pays rates and who doesn't?


Dead right Bob, instances like this show that it is not only that the local authorities are funded that matters but how they are funded. In many ways LAs have stopped working for the people since the race to the bottom was won by FF and domestic rates were abolished in 79. I'm quite sure that its one of the core green principles that local government is funded from a local tax base that is controlled locally - wonder if Gormley is going to advance this as part of his reforms, doubt it.
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby GrahamH » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:45 pm

A previous thread on the same issue.

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=5911
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Re: Disgustingly ugly ESB cables in urban areas?

Postby MrX » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:07 pm

I think this YouTube video also serves to illustrate that they are in pretty bad condition in some areas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHvnXH1_6Kk

ESB overhead wiring at Rhode, Co. Offaly spectacularly overloading one misty day.

These are standard overhead 230V / 400V local distribution lines, not high tension wires. Same as you'd find in any town in Ireland.

PS: Some of the locals do use the odd expletive in the context of shock/horror!
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