Elia, the Belgian transmission system operator, has clarified comments attributed to it during a recent visit by a Sinn Féin delegation.
The delegation, comprising Sinn Féin representatives and members of groups opposed to the North South Interconnector, met Elia to discuss its ALEGrO project, an underground electricity interconnector between Belgium and Germany.
According to media coverage published after the visit, Elia is reported to have referred to “meta data which shows that incidence of childhood leukaemia is higher closer to high voltage overground lines” and to have said that “none of the elements of the North South Interconnector were barriers to undergrounding”. The North South Interconnector is EirGrid’s proposed 400kV overhead line linking the electricity grids of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Elia has contacted both EirGrid and the newspapers that published the initial statements to make some clarifications.
Elia said that it “did not state that there are no barriers to undergrounding” the North South Interconnector.
“As a general rule, Elia does not comment or take a position on projects where it is not involved,” it continued. “Every project has its specific requirements and there is no one-size-fits-all approach”.
Elia added that “about the specific leukaemia aspect, in the available research a causal relation between the presence of overhead lines and risk of leukaemia has never been found.”
To read the original copy of the letter Elia sent EirGrid regarding this visit, please click here.