EIRGRID HAS said it intends to go ahead within weeks with the installation of the €600 million East-West Interconnector at Rush in north Co Dublin.
Eirgrid was granted permission by An Bord Pleanála last year to make a landfall for the cable at the town’s North Beach. The cable, which links to Wales, is to be routed through the village in a plastic duct buried a metre below the street surface.
However, the plan has come under opposition from locals in the Rush area, citing health and safety concerns. While work began elsewhere in July, the scheduled start in Rush was postponed.
Discussions have taken place with residents on details of the installation of the cable and on financial investment by Eirgrid in facilities in the Rush area.
In August, responding to concerns expressed by Rush Community Council, Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan asked Eirgrid to re-examine the route.
However, the company yesterday posted leaflets to houses in the area announcing work would begin towards the end of the month.
According to the company, 15 per cent of the 46km route in Ireland has been put in place and work was proceeding to meet the 2012 deadline for the cable being operational.
The announcement of the start came just days after international health expert Dr Eric van Rongen rejected fears that the interconnector posed health risks. Dr van Rongen’s remarks were made in a report commissioned by the Department of Energy.
“There are no indications that exposure to the static magnetic fields generated by the high-voltage, direct-current cable will in any way adversely affect human health, neither through acute nor through long-term effects,” Dr van Rongen said. “The risk associated with this exposure can be considered to be as close to zero as possible.”
A spokeswoman for Eirgrid said the company had looked at other options over four months but none was feasible.
It said routing the cable away from Rush through the nearby Rogerstown estuary was not possible as Rogerstown was a designated Natura 2000 site. EU guidelines set down that any project having a significantly negative effect on such a site “may only be authorised in the absence of alternative solutions”.