Protest against EirGrid power work
Work on one of the country's most vital energy projects is under threat as protesters plan a picket that could spark massive disruption.
Residents in Rush, north Co Dublin, will step up their campaign as EirGrid begins routing a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power line through the town.
Some have vowed to block roads during a massive rally as contractors for the State-backed scheme, which will link power supplies between Wales and Meath, move in at dawn on Wednesday.
Rush Community Council said residents are not against the overall project, with a spokeswoman adding: "Concern is for the chosen route through the heart of our community.
"Logic would dictate a very viable alternative route, with little deviation from its original course - which would be far safer for the people of Rush and safer for the integrity of the HVDC cable from damage."
EirGrid insists the Interconnector poses no health and safety risks, and has agreed to fund an independent assessment to ease concerns. However the company said it could not postpone initial works until the safety study was complete.
An EirGrid spokeswoman said: "We have repeatedly stated that EirGrid cannot incur the financial penalties that delaying works in Rush would cause as these costs would have to be passed to the electricity consumer to bear. We have managed to hold off works in Rush since July but now works need to commence."
Campaigners want the 600 million euro East-West Interconnector, which was given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala last year, to be rerouted through an estuary on the outskirts of the town.
The current plan envisages that the cables will come onshore at North Beach in Rush before travelling under the main street of the town past residential areas and schools. The plan will link Ireland and Britain electricity grids, and eventually give greater competition in the electricity market and develop the country's renewable energy supply.