Eirgrid has confirmed that exploratory work on the Celtic Interconnector, the so-called power highway proposed to run underwater between Ireland and France, has begun.

Five sites in east Cork have been identified as possible locations to bring the underwater cable ashore.

They are: Claycastle, Redbarn, Ballinwilling, Inch, and Ballycroneen beaches.

Marine surveys of the foreshore, in shallow waters, and off-shore will be undertaken over the coming month.

Work began this week on Claycastle beach, and a rig anchored off Redbarn beach will be used to chart the seabed.

Local independent councillor Mary Linehan-Foley said people cannot complain that the work was unflagged.

She said Eirgrid had a mobile information unit in the town recently, and there was coverage in local papers.

But she added she has been reassured that it is just survey work that is being undertaken.

A final decision on construction of the Celtic Interconnector will not be made until 2021.

The project would involve a 500km submarine circuit being laid on or below the seabed between Ireland and France.  

Coming ashore at one of the five beaches in east Cork, it is proposed that it will run underground along the road network connecting into an existing substation on the national transmission grid at Knockraha.

The company says it is seeking local views as "part of the decision making process".