Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Electricity Inter-connector concern must be properly addressed

11 December, 2007

Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, Deputy Chairperson of the Assembly Environment Committee, has said that community health and environmental concern about the proposed North South Electricity Inter-connector need to be properly addressed.

Mr Boylan said:

"The Cavan to Tyrone electricity interconnect is proving to be a very worrying and emotive subject for the general public along the proposed route in county Armagh. It is causing debate in Tyrone, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.

"The concern about the health risks associated to overhead power lines carrying 400kv, is that no such voltage has been carried by over headlines before in Ireland. There is no conclusive proof for or against the health concerns, and so the public have the right to demand safety in this matter, rather than judgement being left to future generations, when it may be too late.

"One aspect of the health concerns which needs looked at more closely is the production of corona ions. Whenever high voltages are present in electrical systems there is the possibility that the high electric fields that exist close to conductors may cause electrical breakdown of the surrounding air; an effect known as corona discharge.

"An increase of charge density downwind of power lines is well established and can be measured at distances of several kilometres. People may be exposed to these more highly charged polluted particles and the effect of electrostatic charge on increasing respiratory problems has been recognised for some time.

"Are we prepared to gamble with subjecting the public to potential health risks such as those posed by corona ions? I do not believe we can.

"The regulators, North and South, the environmental minister and her counterpart in Dublin, must take the handcuffs off NIE and EIRGRID to allow them to put this connector underground. This would not only reassure the public on health issues, but it will also do away with the detrimental environment impact of 40 kilometres of pylons, irrespective of the size of them, cutting across the drumlins of Armagh.

"Sinn Féin supports the proposal for an all Ireland energy system that will benefit the consumer. We feel this can best be met by underground any proposed inter connector and will support the general public in their call for the same." ENDS

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