Some of the cabling for the part of the €930m Celtic Interconnector, from France to Ireland, may run along the former Midleton-Youghal railway.
It will ultimately be linked to a 10-acre electrical converter site, which may end up being located at the former Amgen site near Carrigtwohill.
These are just a few of the suggestions that Eirgrid engineers are looking at for the project, having narrowed down the locations for the landfall of a submarine cable in Ireland and its connection to a converter station which will hook up to the national grid.
It looks increasingly like the landfall area will be at one of Youghal’s beaches.
Eoghan Tuite, the Celtic Connector’s onshore project manager, told a meeting of the East Cork Municipal District Council that they were now working on a handful of possible locations for the landfall and converter sites.
He said he expected the preferred locations to be identified before the end of the year and as it is a Strategic Infrastructure project, Eirgrid will make a planning application directly to Bord Pleanála, “probably next summer”.
The interconnector will transmit high voltage direct current (DC) from Brittany which will then be converted into alternating current (AC) at the converter station.
When the project is completed, which is expected to be in 2026, it will supply enough electricity to power 450,000 homes daily.
Mr Tuite said work on the beach ultimately identified for the landfall of the submarine cable would take about two months to complete.
Youghal-based Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said she was concerned that this could prove disruptive to her town’s tourism revenue.
Mr Tuite replied that Eirgrid would do that work off-season, which she welcomed.
Councillors were also concerned that work on the land cable would lead to multiple road closures.
Cllr Michael Hegarty said the obvious way to lessen the impact was to duct the land cable along the former Midleton-Youghal railway, which Cork County Council plans to turn into a greenway.
Mr Tuite said Eirgrid was looking at this, but would have to hold detailed talks with Irish Rail to see if the company had any plans in the future to reopen the railway line.
Cllr Hegarty added that if the land cable went along the rail corridor the logical place to build the converter station was at the former Amgen site, which is close to Midleton.
He said this would cause far less disruption than digging up roads to bring the cable to other shortlisted sites in the Knockraha, Lisgoold and Lemlara areas.
Mr Tuite said further geological investigations were needed at the Amgen site, because there were underground streams in the area.
Cllr Danielle Twomey said there were a lot of objections to converter plans in the three villages.
Mr Tuite acknowledged that objections had been made by people living in Knockraha to one of the potential sites for the converter.
Eirgrid is looking at a site there known as The Rae. It is believed that dozens of British soldiers and so-called informers were killed there by an IRA unit led by Martin Corry during the War of Independence.
Locals do not want the site disturbed as they regard it as a burial ground.