Published: Feb 13, 2007
SHELL Oil is to meet officials from An Bord Pleanala to discuss its plans to build a controversial gas pipeline in north Mayo.
The planning board confirmed it had received a request for talks from Shell ahead of the energy giant applying for planning permission for its gas pipeline in north Mayo.
The company asked for the pre-application consultation last week and a spokesman for An Bord Pleanala said it would be a few weeks before a meeting could take place.
The company will engage in “pre-application discussions”, allowed under the new Strategic Infrastructure Act, and will ask the board about the procedures it must follow before it lodges a planning application later this year.
Under the act, which came into force at the end of January, An Bord Pleanala will be charged with deciding if major infrastructural projects such as incinerators and gas networks should be granted approval.
The request for talks was lodged on February 8.
The discussions will focus on documentation and the actions Shell needs to take when it seeks planning permission. These include compiling Environmental Impact Statements to show the effect the gas pipeline would have on the area and the need – if any – for public consultation.
The discussions do not oblige the board to grant planning permission.
The Ballanaboy gas terminal has already been approved, and assuming Shell lodge a planning application it will be the first time the 9km pipeline will come before a planning authority.
Up to now, permission to construct a gas pipeline had been subject to the granting of an order from Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey.
However, the new act also requires permission from An Bord Pleanala.
The anti-pipeline group Shell to Sea said it was happy “in general terms” with the latest development, but the project was being granted approval on a “piecemeal” basis and there had been no analysis of the project in its totality.
A spokesman also said Mayo County Council should have a role to play.
“In general terms, we’re happy the pipeline requires planning permission, but the nature of the process is unsatisfactory because the local authority is excluded,” the spokesman said yesterday.
“I don’t know if we’ll get a rigorous analysis of the planning process,” he said. “This is a piecemeal approach. The group will hold a public rally in Dublin opposing the pipeline on February 24.