Families fight to halt power cable

Sarah Stack

Defiant residents in Rush, Co Dublin, have threatened to disrupt work on one of the country's largest energy projects over safety concerns.

Homeowners in the commuter town want Eirgrid to re-route a high voltage DC cable which will carry 500MW of power between Wales and Woodland in Co Meath.

Those opposing the f600m East-West Interconnector, which was given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala last year, say Eirgrid should consider an alternative route through an estuary on the outskirts of the town.

Some have vowed to block roads when contractors for the State-backed infrastructure project move in.

Concerned dad-of-four Dermot Goode said: "I wouldn't have a mobile phone mast near my house or let my kids play near pylons, but they want to put this right under out feet and past the national school."

Protesters claim similar DC cables do not go through a residential area anywhere else in Europe.

However Eirgrid, a state-owned company mandated to develop the interconnector by 2012, has rejected safety fears.

It maintained 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.

A spokeswoman said: "We know there is a population in Rush but this interconnector would not have been approved by the World Health Organisation, Government and An Bord Pleanala if there was a health risk to anybody."

Worried Rush residents plan to hold a mass rally in the town next Sunday.

Anne McCrudden, chair of Rush Community Council, said every avenue -- including a meeting with Energy Minister Eamon Ryan -- has been exhausted. Committee members now plan to appeal to the EU.