EirGrid and the CSA and that 2010 Report

Since the publication of the blogs examining the 2010 Report ‘A Review of Recent Investigations into the Possible Health Effects of Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) from Power Lines’, queries have been raised by readers of this blog as to the nature of the relationship between EirGrid and the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland (CSA), and so I did a little digging.

Before I begin, here is a carefully written disclaimer:

I was recently introduced to the existentialist musings of Paddy Pylon (http://paddypylon.com/ ), which I have greatly enjoyed. To quote the Man from Mullingar:

“My name is Padraig. I’m your ordinary bloke. I have a loving wife and a very sick child. I have decided to call myself Paddy Pylon cos I have powerful enemies with bank balances larger than Tesco’s annual turnover. They are sailing huge boats loaded with pylons and wind turbines across the Irish Sea as we speak. They do not like being contradicted. They treat politicians like cheap toys: if they can’t be controlled, they are ruined and tossed aside. I don’t see many ruined politicians in this country. Go figure.”

My personal circumstances are in many respects similar to those of Paddy and so, like him, I need to understand the nature of the threat he describes.

I was informed by my favourite whistleblower that EirGrid take a keen interest in this blog. Whilst I am flattered that a huge multi-billion organisation would take an interest in my little blog, I am also mindful that the scrutiny would not be of the doting variety, but rather that of the vulture waiting for one stumble, upon which they would swoop in for the kill. As I do not have the money or the time to fight a defamation action, or the fortitude to live on the run like Paddy, it will be necessary to keep my conclusions to myself, as freedom of expression is under severe attack in this country. I will present the facts as I found them, and let you, the reader, draw your own conclusions.

The CSA website says the following:

“The duties of the CSA are to:
1. To provide high level advice on specific scientific issues of concern to the Government, as required;
2. To provide such scientific input into the work of any relevant body or advisory group as the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation may from time to time reasonably require;
3. To fulfil, on behalf of Government, a representational / ambassadorial role in the science field;
4. To attend, as may be required, Cabinet or Cabinet Committee meetings and Houses of the Oireachtas Meetings; and
5. To report periodically to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, or as may be requested by the Minister.”


One of the documents listed on the CSA website under the heading “Irish Key Policy and Other Documents” is the NREAP.

Professor Patrick Cunningham held the post of Chief Scientific Adviser from January 2007 until the end of August 2012. On the website ‘Bio-economy in action’, he is described thus:

“Patrick Cunningham is Chief Scientific Adviser to the Irish Government and Professor of Animal Genetics in Trinity College, University of Dublin.
He was formerly Deputy Director (Research) in the Irish National Agriculture and Food Research Institute (1980 – 1988), visiting Professor at the Economic Development Institute, World Bank (1988) and Director of the Animal Production and Health Division, Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN, Rome (1990 – 93). He has published extensively on the genetics of domesticated animals. He is co-founder and Chairman of the biotechnology company IdentiGEN. He has been President of the European and World Associations of Animal Production, and served on the European Life Sciences Group which advised Commissioner Busquin.”

Under the heading “About Us” on the IdentiGEN website appears the following:

“When the most valuable ingredient in any food brand is trust, IdentiGEN’s DNA TraceBack® system helps build and protect that trust. IdentiGEN is a leading provider of DNA-based solutions to the agri-food industry currently operating in Ireland, UK, USA and Canada. We are applying our core expertise in genetic identification to develop and market a range of products designed to improve the safety, quality and integrity of the food supply.”

In summary therefore, Professor Cunningham is a geneticist . There is no mention in his resume of any expertise in the area of renewable energy, particularly wind energy.

In the programme for Torino 2010, a huge international scientific conference (EuroScience Open Forum, Turin, July 2-7), the entry for 4th July 2010 has the Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Cunningham, as moderator of a module entitled “Taming the wind: a strategic energy option for Europe”. The Organiser of the module is listed as Eamonn Cahill, from the office of the CSA.

This is the entry in the Conference Programme:

“4 July, 14:15 – 15:30, Sala Madrid
Taming the wind: a strategic energy option for Europe
“ORGANIZER: Eamonn Cahill, Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser, Ireland
Niels-Erik Clausen, Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Denmark: “Towards 50% electricity from wind”
Aidan Corcoran, Eirgrid, Ireland: “Building a transmission system for wind”
Paul Dowling, SSE Renewables, Ireland: “Taming offshore wind”
Igor V. Shvets, School of Physics, Trinity College, Ireland: “Wind and water: Ireland and the European energy landscape.”

Patrick Cunningham, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Irish Government, Ireland”

A description of the module appears in the Conference Programme:

“Many regions of Europe enjoy an abundance of wind energy. Yet despite its distinct advantages (clean, renewable, distributed, not competing with food production), wind currently contributes less than 4% to Europe’s electrical energy. Can its apparent drawbacks (intermittency, geographical variability, unpredictability) be mitigated sufficiently for it to become a large-scale contributor to Europe’s future energy requirements? This session will hear from four visionary speakers who believe that the answer is “yes” and who will outline how this goal can be achieved. Niels-Erik Clausen will present an overview of the state-of the-art in wind energy technology and set out a vision for the future of wind energy in Denmark and Europe. Aidan Corcoran will review how EirGrid and other European transmission system operators are building the transmission infrastructure necessary to support large-scale wind generation and will also outline plans for a European, offshore SuperGrid. Paul Dowling will outline the next stage in the evolution of offshore wind with the award of leases for sites that have the potential to generate 4,000-9,000 MW, and he will discuss the SuperGrid as a potential solution to building large scale offshore wind. Igor V. Shvets will outline an imaginative proposal to combine large pumped-storage reservoirs with large-scale wind farms to give Ireland significant export capacity for electricity.”


The SSE Renewables website says the following:

“SSE Renewables is Ireland’s largest renewable energy developer, responsible for the development and construction of SSE Group’s renewable energy projects across Ireland.

Our Development Pipeline:
SSE Ireland has over 500MW of renewable energy capacity across Ireland and has almost 1400MW of onshore and offshore wind farm capacity under construction or with consent for development. The wind farms developed by SSE Renewables power SSE Airtricity, Ireland’s second largest energy provider.”



Who were the speakers Aidan Corcoran from EirGrid and Paul Dowling from SSE Ireland?

Aidan Corcoran writes the following on his LinkedIn page:

“I am presently Manager commercial and asset management functions for EirGrid’s East West Interconnector – the HVDC link between Ireland and Wales.
EirGrid is Irelands Transmission System Operator and the Market Operator in the wholesale electricity trading system, a leading Irish energy business, dedicated to the provision of transmission and market services for the benefit of electricity consumers. It is a state-owned commercial company.
I am a Charted Engineer with a Masters in Industrial Engineering and have worked with EirGrid since its inception. I have extensive experience (over 25 years) in the electricity industry both in Ireland and abroad and has in particularly, worked on the design, construction and maintenance of high voltage transmission systems at all voltage levels (110kV, 220kV and 400kV).
I am a member of CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems),and represents EirGrid on ENTSO–E (European Network for Transmission System Operators for Electricity) presently being Convenor of the Asset Implementation and Management Working Group.”

Bloomberg Businessweek has the following information on Paul Dowling:

“Mr. Paul Dowling serves as the Chief Executive Officer of E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC. Mr. Dowling served as the Chief Operating Officer of SSE Renewables Holdings Limited since joining it in 1997. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of SSE Renewables for over two years. He served as the Director of Strategy at Scottish & Southern Energy plc (now SSE plc) from June 2010 to June 2011. He worked with Bord na Mona on their wind energy projects from 1990 to 1997. He serves as a Director of E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC and SSE Renewables. He has been a Director of GT Energy since February 5, 2012. Mr. Dowling is a Qualified Chartered Engineer and also holds an MBA from Trinity College Dublin.
Company Overview:
E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC develops, constructs, owns, and operates renewable power projects, including wind, solar, and alternative energy in the United States and Canada. It serves households and homes. The company was formerly known as Airtricity, Inc. and changed its name to E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC in December 2007. E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC was founded in 2003 and is based in Chicago, Illinois with development offices in Austin, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. It also has a solar headquarters in San Francisco, California. E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC operates as a subsidiary of E.ON SE.”


Listed as a “Wind development company based in Dublin, Ireland with North American headquarters in Chicago.” (http://www.treia.org/index.php?option=com_community&view=profile&userid=16955833), E.ON describes itself as follows:

“E.ON is a major investor-owned energy supplier. At facilities across Europe, Russia, and North America, our more than 62,000 employees generated approx. EUR122.5 billion in sales in 2013. In addition, there are businesses in Brazil and Turkey we manage jointly with partners. E.ON’s diversified business consists of renewables, conventional and dezentralized power generation, natural gas, energy trading, retail and distribution. We supply around 35 million customers 1)[Footnote marker for Footnote No. 1] with energy. With our broad energy mix we own about 61 GW generation capacity and we are one of the world’s leading renewables companies. We have an ambitious objective: to make energy cleaner and better wherever we operate. With our strategy cleaner & better energy we’re transforming E.ON into a global provider of specialized energy solutions which will benefit our employees, customers, and investors alike.
Led by Group Management in Düsseldorf, the E.ON Group is segmented into global units (by function) and regional units (by country). Five global units manage our generation portfolio, renewables business, global commodities, new-build projects and innovative technology, and exploration and production business. Eleven regional units manage our retail operations, regional energy networks, and distributed-generation activities in Europe. We’re also engaged in power generation and wholesale power marketing in Russia, a special-focus country. We created a new unit, E.ON International Energy, to expand our business outside Europe. It will leverage our expertise in conventional and renewable power generation to regions where energy demand is growing rapidly. Group-wide entities deliver support functions like IT and procurement.”

On the facts therefore all that can be said is that as early as 2010 the office of the CSA organised and chaired a conference symposium on wind energy, at which were present a speaker from EirGrid, who is now a manager on the East-West project, and a speaker from a major player in the Irish wind industry.


Concerns about the health effects of overhead electric lines and the EMF they produce is nothing new. Concerns were raised by the Irish public during the electrification of rural Ireland that commenced with the launch of the Rural Electrification Scheme by the Fianna Fail government in 1946. These fears resurfaced in public consultations prior to the enactment of the Electricity (Regulation) Act No. 23 of 1999.

Governments wishing to pursue further and more powerful electrification in Ireland have sought to placate these fears by commissioning research reports.

In recognition of this, Article 5 of the Aarhus Treaty places a duty on governments and local authorities to proactively disseminate information about projects that might impact on the environment. In particular, Article 5(1)(c) says:

“In the event of any imminent threat to human health or the environment, whether caused by human activities or due to natural causes, all information which could enable the public to take measures to prevent or mitigate harm arising from the threat and is held by a public authority is disseminated immediately and without delay to members of the public who may be affected.”

The Article did not place the words “truthful and reliable” before the word “information” because this is necessarily implied. Governments and/or local authorities must supply accurate information and should be very careful that they do not mislead their citizens on matters of environmental health.

In 2007, a Report commissioned by the Department of the Marine, Communications and Natural Resources, titled “Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields”, recommended that although the risk was not severe enough to move existing (110 and 220 kV) lines away from populated areas, any new lines should be sited away from populated areas as there was an increased risk of childhood leukaemia. This research considered the standard lines (110 and 220kV), and not the more powerful 400kV lines that EirGrid now wishes to erect to allow wind farms to connect to the national grid.

About two weeks after the Torino 2010 conference (mentioned above) a further report was issued in 2010 by the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser (the CSA): ‘A Review of Recent Investigations into the Possible Health Effects of Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) from Power Lines’, prepared by Professor Denis O’Sullivan, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. According to the Department of the Environment, it was commissioned by EirGrid in 2010 and completed in July of that year. Denis O’Sullivan is an Astrophysicist, his work has spanned many years and he is linked to NASA and the European Space Agency. He is not credited with studying or writing anything on renewable energy or the effects of EMF before this 2010 Report.

In 2011 serious concerns were raised about the 2010 Report, as there seemed to be several methodological errors, incorrect citations, and worst of all, a misquote that conveyed exactly the opposite of what the original author intended. Whereas the quoted author said that the field research showed that there was an increased risk of childhood leaukaemia from electrical lines, and that the absence of a biophysical mechanism cannot be taken as proof that an effect was impossible, the 2010 Report misquoted the author by leaving out the first part of the sentence so as to convey the impression that the quoted author had said that there was no risk at all.

See “EirGrid’s ‘Expert Panel’ Review is now in tatters”.

These concerns were raised with EirGrid and the CSA in February 2011. The CSA undertook to have the Report rectified and EirGrid promised to have their website content amended accordingly.

When EirGrid called for a public response to their proposed Grid25 projects, the most frequent concern/complaint received from the public involved EMF and cancer, particularly regarding children. As a result of these fears, and as part of their purported consultation process, in February 2013 EirGrid published a booklet “EMF and You”, where it attempted to placate public concern over the increased risk of childhood leukaemia posed by the 400kV overhead lines. This booklet was and is distributed, apparently in the thousands if one believes EirGrid, at public meetings, and appears in electronic form on their website.

In this 2013 booklet “EMF and You”, there was a link to the 2010 Report by Professor O’Sullivan. This link took you to the original 2010 Report, containing the aforementioned mistakes, incorrect references and citations, and that misquote, all leading to the Report concluding that overhead electrical lines posed no risk at all. This was two years after the Report had been discredited and promises made to rectify the errors.

In other words, despite being told about these errors in 2011, and promising to rectify them, EirGrid continued to use an unsound and misleading report as part of its consultation process. They continued to do so until 31 May of this year when, as a result of the faulty 2010 Report being exposed once again, the link to the faulty document was finally withdrawn from the EirGrid website.

When one examines the CSA website, all traces of that 2010 Report seem to have been erased.


Although these facts are available on the internet, none of the Irish newspapers have picked up on this story.

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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2 Responses to EirGrid and the CSA and that 2010 Report

  1. Pingback: The ESB has insurance against EMF | The Law is my Oyster

  2. Pingback: EirGrid Exposed | The Law is my Oyster

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