Rural community in Cork to protest over electricity converter plans

A rural community in Co Cork is set to hold a protest on Sunday against Eirgrid plans to build a major electricity converter station in its midst.

Rural community in Cork to protest over electricity converter plans

A rural community in Co Cork is set to hold a protest on Sunday against Eirgrid plans to build a major electricity converter station in its midst.

The convertor station is to form part of a €1bn interconnector cable between France and Ireland.

Eirgrid has looked at six sites in Co Cork for the converter station, which is required because the French will transmit high voltage direct current (DC), which will then be converted into alternating current (AC) at the station.

The company has said the best site for landfall for the submarine cable will be at Claycastle Beach, just 2.7km west of Youghal.

It has narrowed down the converter sites to two in the Knockraha area and one near Carrigtwohill.

However, it is widely believed that Knockraha will emerge as the preferred option and locals are adamant they will fight it tooth and nail.

Dr Marie O'Sullivan, who owns one of the two Knockraha sites under consideration, said the area possessed "a beautiful ecosystem" and "a lot of archaeology" and she did not want to see it spoiled by the Eirgrid project.

"They want a 10-acre site for the converter station. Of that four acres will have sheds 80ft high. It will spoil the beautiful valley which leads down to the village," Dr O'Sullivan said.

Her land is at Meeleen, 1.5km to north west of the village.

The ESB has a major substation in the area, which was built in 1963.

Knockraha Environment Group (KEG) will host the protest walk beginning at substation entrance at Pigeon Hill at 11am and onto the proposed converter site at Meeleen, where they expect to arrive at noon.

KEG spokeswoman Annette Cremin said the group had already given Eirgrid a file of 1,000 objections from the local community.

She said that while they have had productive meetings with the company "we are still not satisfied our community concerns have been taken on-board".

"Our community is united in its protest and will fight to the end to ensure this converter is not built in an area of environmental and historical significance," Ms Cremin said.

She said Eirgrid recently confirmed it would require an estimated 1,000 lorry loads of concrete to build the converter station.

EirGrid spokesperson David Martin said the company expected to hold another consultation meeting with KEG shortly.

“It is important to note that there are three potential sites for the converter station. These sites were shortlisted following extensive studies and consultation. All three sites remain under review and we expect to select the best-performing site in the coming weeks," Mr Martin said.

“Once the selection is made, it will be subjected to more detailed analysis that will examine any possible impacts on a range of environmental and technical considerations, including natural and cultural heritage and water quality," he said.

It is expected that a planning application for the project will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála later this year.

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