Tamnaherin native Joe Strawbridge is urging landowners hosting NIE electricity poles to voluntarily sign over collective annual compensation payments of over £3m to cancer research.
Mr Strawbridge (aged 72) told the Sentinel he believes the proposal could generate up to £60,000 a week in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has confirmed it issues around 110,000 ‘wayleave’ payments to local landowners annually. Mr Strawbridge reckons the cheque average to be around £28.
He says if landowners signed over small annual entitlements it would make a massive difference to a search for a cure and new treatments.
“Once you have a pole on your land, the electricity board will pay you approximately £5 a pole,” he explains. “So, if you’ve ten poles they’ll pay you that and if you’ve 20 poles they’ll pay you that, if you’ve one pole they’ll pay you that.”
He says: “But what I mean is...to bring the thing to a head, the electricity people say they write 110,000 cheques a year. Well, the technique I have as well, is, block that, to a certain point. Make it one cheque written to the cancer fund.”
Mr Strawbridge - who’s lived in Limavady for the past two decades - says he’s had tentative conversations about the project already.
“I want it signed over for 25 years,” he says. “The board themselves have a wee charity thing running already. Whenever I phoned them up they said they had a wee charity thing there. I said ‘I want to go the full monty.’” He says a panel could be established to make the idea work.
A NIE spokesperson said: “At NIE, we issue around 110,000 wayleave cheque payments annually. These are payments to landowners who have our equipment on their land.
“NIE already offers a service by, which individuals can nominate a charity to receive the wayleave cheque on their behalf.”