Residents opposed to ESB substation expansion

A village in East Cork has raised a raft of objections to plans by Eirgrid to extend an ESB substation in their community as part of the overall upgrading of the national electricity grid.

Knockraha is also the starting point of the controversial Gridlink pylon project which is seeking to build a corridor of 400kV pylons from Co Cork to Wexford and on to Co Kildare. There has been strong opposition in Knockraha to both plans as the existing electricity substation already means that the hinterland is dotted with powerlines.

Eirgrid says it wants to “reconfigure and extend” the existing substation at Knockraha about eight miles from Glanmire.

Eirgrid says the current station site is approximately 21.1 acres in area and the extension will increase that by 2.8 acres. However new towers, powerlines and landscaping will be adding another 7 acres.

It says “the extension is driven by the immediate need to improve the reliability and flexibility of Knockraha 220 kV substation, which is one of the most important substations in the south of Ireland”.

Eirgrid wants to remove three existing pylons at the site and replace them with five new pylons of up to 46 metres tall. Six 24-metre high lightning masts are also to be built on the site. There are currently six 110kV circuits and six 220 kV circuits running through the station and Eirgrid has described the site as a ‘bottleneck’ due to the numbers of electricity sources feeding in and out of it. Its engineers want to rearrange the existing circuits and install additional circuit breakers to help fix the bottleneck.

They also want to remove a transformer they installed on the site in 2009 as it is causing electricity overloads and move incoming circuits and add extra circuit breakers to help fix the substation bottleneck.

But the Knockraha Community Association said they will fight Eirgrid’s plans.

“We are at saturation point in this location with pylons and double-poles having 12 circuits radiate out from the existing substation. The rural nature of the area cannot realistically absorb any further electrical grid infrastructure.

“We now request that Cork County Council should impress upon Eirgrid and ESB that the current substation is at its maximum size and capacity and that no further development or expansion should be allowed at this location. Alternative plans must be developed and considered to reduce the impact of the site and not increase its scale in any way,” the association added.

The community association is also objecting to the development on the grounds that the area is zoned for rural housing and that such an industrial development would be in contravention of the County Development Plan.

It also says the expansion of the site will undermine the value of their properties, their quality of life and that the planning application does not explain how Eirgrid will address noise from the station. The locals are also arguing that the land is part of a marsh and subject to flooding, that a stream runs through it which makes its way to the Butlerstown and Glashaboy rivers and then to Cork Harbour. They are also questioning if the site, which was used to store electrical equipment, was tested for creosote contamination as creosote is carcinogenic.

Last night a spokesman for Eirgrid said that “a substantial amount of infrastructure in the existing substation is being removed”.

“This will see the number of transformers reduced from three to two, which should reduce the noise created by the station. A number of now redundant gantries will also be removed, which should make the look of the substation less cluttered”.

Substations are used to manage the electricity flow between generator and user, to manage faults so blackouts are avoided and to transform electricity voltage as required.

The work will take three to five years to complete.


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