Cork residents group raises concerns over part of Celtic Interconnector Project

In recent weeks, An Bord Pleanála approved the €1bn underwater power line which will allow the exchange of electricity between Ireland and France.
Cork residents group raises concerns over part of Celtic Interconnector Project

A view of a section of the 575km Celtic Interconnector on board one of the vessels laying it on subsea path between Youghal and Brittany, France.

A member of a residents group in Midleton has raised concerns about part of the proposed Celtic Interconnector Project.

In recent weeks, An Bord Pleanála approved the €1bn underwater power line which will allow the exchange of electricity between Ireland and France.

The subsea interconnector will be the first of its kind between Ireland and mainland Europe, making landfall in Youghal, with an underground cable running from there to a new converter station which will be built near Carrigtwohill.

Mark Douglas a member of the Churchtown Residents Association said the residents have health concerns in relation to the proposed route in the Midleton section.

“There are 33 houses on this section. This route doesn’t stop here. It goes further along. There is a lot of concern about the health aspect of it with EMFs (electromagnetic field). This is a 60-year project so nobody knows what the long-term effects of the low-level radiation or EMF will be. There is a lot of concern among the residents as some people have health issues.” 

Mr Douglas also cited disruption to their narrow road as another reason why residents are against this route. “It is a farming road, and all the disruption will be a nightmare. The majority of residents are against this.

“There is so much anger because they have more options and alternative routes. Why are they insisting on going this route?

"Communication has been non-existent. Since we put our objections into An Bord Pleanála we have had no communication with EirGrid whatsoever,” he claimed.

Mr Douglas said residents have no objection at all to the project, it is just this specific route. 

“If they had it on a different route away from residential areas, we would be standing outside with flags waving them on.

“We just can’t leave it go. This is not a project that will be over and done within a couple of years. This is for 60 years.” 

Fianna Fáil councillor Ann Marie Ahern agreed that the proposed route is not viable.

“The route is probably going ten miles longer than needed into a residential area when they could go straight up the N25. It is not a viable route. They can go other direct routes, but they are choosing not to. We have had a couple of residents meetings with them. They have turned out to be an absolute disaster. I would love if they sat down in a mediation with the residents to try and resolve this.” 

Cllr Ahern said the residents want more transparency. “We just want them to revisit the routes and to present to us why the other routes are not viable. The residents have a right to know. This is public money they will be spending. We are looking for more transparency or for them to redirect it through agricultural land.” 

In 2019, the project received €530 million in funding from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy Programme.

A spokesperson for EirGrid told The Echo: “The route for the Celtic Interconnector was chosen following lengthy technical and environmental assessments, as well as a comprehensive public consultation. Subsequent activity has also taken place including the establishment of an inclusive local community representative forum in summer 2021 facilitated by an independent chair, Irish Rural Link.

“Following the conclusion of extensive consultations some residents did make contact with a number of concerns. As a result, dedicated online meetings were held to listen to, and respond to, concerns raised. EirGrid also held additional meetings with the East Cork Municipal District Council in March 2021, where these concerns were also raised.

“At these meetings, EirGrid committed to undertake a review of route options specific to the concerns raised. This review would also include consideration of off-road/cross-country routes, which had not previously been considered given EirGrid’s stated preference to install underground cable within existing public roads,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said the review confirmed the original selection of the best-performing route. 

“The review, undertaken by a team of technical, environmental, ecological, planning, engineering, agricultural and other specialists in EirGrid was completed in March 2021. It confirmed the original selection of the best performing route. 

“The route has since been assessed and approved by the state’s highest planning authority, An Bord Pleanála. In its report, all public concerns and suggestions submitted are addressed. A Foreshore Licence has been submitted for the offshore elements of the project in Ireland, and a marine licence is also required from the UK Marine Management Organisation.

“Subject to securing these consents, it is expected the project will be built and energised by 2026,” the spokesman added.

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