Angry residents take to streets over power-cable plan
THOUSANDS of residents of a coastal commuter town took part in a protest march yesterday demanding that one of the country's largest energy projects be rerouted over safety concerns.
Around 3,000 people marched through Rush, Co Dublin, in the latest step in a campaign to get Eirgrid to reroute a high voltage DC cable which will carry 500MW of power between Wales and Woodland in Co Meath.
The protest was organised by the local community council, which is asking for the €600m east-west interconnector, given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala last year, to be routed through an estuary on the outskirts of the town.
The current plan envisages that the cables will come onshore at North Beach in Rush, before passing under the main street of the town, and passing by residential areas and schools.
Anne McCrudden, chairwoman of the community council, said the large turnout, in a town with a population of around 8,500 people, showed the depth of feeling about the issue.
"We reckoned we had around 3,000 people. There are around 3,000 houses in the town, which means that every house in the town was represented," she said
"Their request is clear, they want this rerouted and we will keep going until that happens."
As well as health and safety concerns, residents are worried about the possibility of a cable failure or accident and the disruption that will be caused by digging up the town centre for up to a year.
The cables were rerouted around Ratoath in Co Meath -- following consultation with Meath County Council -- because of traffic considerations, says Eirgrid.
Rush protesters claim similar DC power cables do not go through a residential area anywhere else in Europe and carry more power than Ireland's largest power station, Moneypoint.
Eirgrid, a state-owned company mandated to develop the interconnector by 2012, says the project is safe and has no health risk.
It maintains the earth's natural magnetic field is higher than that from the cables and that a route through Rogerstown Estuary was dismissed because the waterway is protected under EU law as a special area of conservation.
An Eirgrid spokesperson said the company would fund an independent assessment of the health risks and consult again with An Bord Pleanala for clarification on EU conservation law.