Residents in East Cork have accused Eirgrid of failing to communicate with them about tentative plans to develop a 600km electricity interconnector between Ireland and France.
But Eirgrid say the €1bn project is at the earliest stages and they may not make a decision on commercial viability until 2016.
Contractors for Eirgrid are currently carrying out a geophysical marine survey of the seabed between La Martyre in Brittany and the Ballycotton Bay area to ascertain the most suitable location for cables to transfer electricity between Brittany and Cork.
The proposed interconnector could yet be routed from Great Island in Wexford, or from Knockraha via Ballycotton Bay in Cork. Both are points on the planned €500m Gridlink pylon corridor.
To work out the most suitable route, the contractors first had to map the seabed by boat and identify marine habitat areas.
The proposed interconnector will be a 320 or 400kV HVDC connection under the seabed. Eirgrid has applied to carry out marine survey works at Ballinwilling and Ballycroneen beach on Ballycotton Bay.
Wayne O’Halloran of the East Cork No Pylon Group said: “Eirgrid have stated in the past that they have made mistakes in terms of poor consultation with the pylon project, but here we go again. We are wondering will the project be half done before we are consulted? Why waste all this time and money on surveys and contracts and then drip feed the information. Why is this coming to Cork at all? Is this electricity not required for the East not the South? Why are they choosing to build it elsewhere and pump it to Dublin?”
“We have no details about the overall route from Ireland to France. We have no details on the location of a converter station in the East and we have no information on where the overhead cables or pylons will run to when the power is converted from AC to DC. Copies of the application to carry out marine survey work were left at Midleton Garda Station but nobody in the community was informed of this, ” said Mr O’Halloran.
France’s grid operator is also taking part in the feasibility study which began this summer. Eirgrid already operates the 570m East West interconnector, which runs under the sea from Dublin to Wales.
A spokesman for Eirgrid said that it had “a statutory obligation to explore and develop opportunities for the interconnection of Ireland’s electricity system with other systems”.
Projects like the potential interconnector allow Ireland to further integrate into the European energy market and, by doing so, enhance security of supply and help lower energy costs, he said.
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