Rush residents to march over Eirgrid pipeline proposals

Hundreds of residents of Rush in North County Dublin are expected to hold a public rally this Sunday, in protest against the planned development of a high voltage electricity cable through the town by the State’s energy body Eirgrid.

The rally, which is being organised by Rush Community Council, will take place at 1pm from the Mill Bank and trace the proposed route of the cable which enters the Irish Sea at the town’s north beach.

The cable, known as the East-West Interconnector, will connect the Irish power system to the electricity grid in Britain.  The interconnector will have a capacity of 500 Megawatts and has already received approval by An Bord Pleanala.

However at a public meeting held last week, over 600 local residents voiced their concerns surrounding the safety of the pipeline.

Spokesperson for Rush Community Council David Sheehy told Dublin Observer last night that the route proposed by Eirgrid poses “a significant threat to the community”.

“There are major concerns in Rush surrounding the emissions from the cable but also the actual safety of the cable,” he said.

“We are not against the actual project. What we are against is the fact that it is proposed to run through the town, past the national school with 700 young children, that is our primary concern. We’re talking single metre distances to residential properties where there would be children asleep. These kinds of cables across the world avoid population centres. This cable seems to be taking the easy route and that’s just not acceptable.”

According to Mr Sheehy, the main aim of the rally is to send out a message to Eirgrid that it must alter the proposed route ensuring the pipeline avoids running through the town.

“They have been changing parts of the route on an ongoing basis. They go back to An Bord Pleanala and say we need to change this part of the route, so the fact is there is precedent there for doing so which means they can do so in regards to Rush.”

According to Eirgrid, the €600m development has the potential to supply energy to approximately 350,000 homes.

The company argues that the cable poses no health and safety concerns to residents and that routing it through the town is the most practical and economically viable option.

One of Eirgrid’s project documents states: “Rush North Beach is the most environmentally sustainable, economical and practical for linking to The UK electricity transmission network in North Wales…We would not be developing this interconnector if there were any health risks to anyone along the route”.

The company has ruled out the possibility of the cable being run through the nearby Rogerstown Estuary given that the area has special conservation status under EU law. However local residents have rejected this, instead arguing that the estuary has been damaged by Fingal county council using it to transport pipeline to nearby Portrane, where a new sewerage treatment plant is under construction.

Local councillor Tom O’Leary (Fine Gael) said that government action is what’s needed to ensure the cable avoids Rush.

“As the Government are facilitating this project, it is my view they have the responsibility and power to persuade Eirgrid to alter the route in Rush,” he said.

“Minister Gormley seems to be able to delay the incinerator, why can’t Minister Ryan and Minster Gormley turn their attention to Eirgrid…and come up with a strategy to persuade Eirgrid to reroute, “he added.

Dublin Observer understands that Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan is to mediate a meeting between Rush Community Council and Eirgrid CEO Dermot Byrne but the exact date of that meeting is not yet known.

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