Belfast Telegraph

Cables 'could increase cancer risk'

New evidence has revealed underground electricity cables running through a seaside town could increase the risk of childhood leukaemia, campaigners have claimed.

Residents who oppose a high-voltage power line under Rush in north Co Dublin maintain energy company EirGrid misled planning authorities.

A public health academic also called for the state-owned firm to launch a fresh planning process for the east-west interconnector, which will connect the Irish and British electricity grids.

Professor Anthony Staines, of Dublin City University, maintained evidence about the magnetic field around the cables presented by EirGrid at An Bord Pleanala's oral hearing in 2009 was seriously inaccurate.

"Potential adverse health effects of the cable system's magnetic field have not been assessed for the received permission," he said.

"As it is well established that low frequency magnetic fields increase the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, there is at least one well-defined health risk which needs to be considered."

EirGrid has denied the claims, stating it always operates within national, international and EU guidelines to ensure public health.

A spokeswoman said since planning permission was granted, two separate independent reports were commissioned to address safety concerns - one ordered by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources carried out by radiobiologist Eric van Rongen, and one by the international energy consultants, KEMA, selected by Rush Community Council (RCC).

"The planning decision by An Bord Pleanala, and the findings of both independent reports by Prof Eric van Rongen and KEMA, confirm that the EirGrid east-west interconnector does not pose a health threat to the public," she said.

Rush Community Council, which states the cables are about 1.5 metres (5ft) from some homes, accused EirGrid of misleading the planning board by stating the cable system's magnetic field would be static only (non-variable) and not time-varying magnetic fields (variable).

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