22 November 2007 Edition
EirGrid put costs before health
Thousands attend pylon protests
Over 1,000 people packed a public meeting in Trim this week to protest against the refusal of EirGrid to lay new cross border electricity cables underground. EirGrid are planning to build one line between Batterstown in Meath and Kingscourt in Cavan in what will be a new cross border link up. A separate meeting in Kingscourt this week was attended by hundreds of people, where a substation is also to be built along with the pylon network.
The Trim meeting of the newly formed Meath Pylon Pressure Group heard a range of environmental and health concerns about the overhead lines which affect the homes of thousands of homes across at least four counties. The MPPG believe that the lines expose communities living near them to increased risk of cancer, miscarriage and childhood leukaemia
EirGrid, a part of ESB, which is responsible for the electricity grid, claim that they had adhered to all EU and WHO regulations in planning the cable network yet some of the 300 pylons will be within 50 metres of homes across the two counties affected with this current phase of building. In Britain health advisers have now requested that pylons should be at least 60 metres away from homes.
The WHO has accepted that there is a possibility that electromagnetic fields such as will be generated by the pylons may increase the risk of childhood leukemia. However a Californian Department of Health study goes further and cites adult leukemia, adult brain cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, breast cancer, depression and certain types of heart disease and miscarriage as being linked to electromagnetic radiation exposure.
For EirGrid the issue is solely one of costs claiming that putting the cable underground would be eight or nine times as expensive as the pylon method. Sinn Féin’s Joe Reilly a local and county councillor in Meath, who attended the Trim meeting told An Phoblacht that the party would be active in supporting the campaign across all of the council areas affected north and south of border. He said, “public health cannot be sacrificed to government cost cutting”.