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Part of Shell Corrib pipeline ‘unsafe’

Irish Times

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 13:18

LORNA SIGGINS, Western Correspondent

Bord Pleanála says that up to half of the proposed nine kilometre onshore route for the Corrib gas pipeline is “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport and Glengad.

The board has suggested that Shell E&P Ireland and its Corrib gas partners explore another route, up the Sruwaddacon estuary, and has given the company three months to come back with detailed information on the route, design and safety of the high pressure pipe.

In a four page letter issued today, the board says that the current application “does not present a complete, transparent and adequate demonstration” that the high pressure pipeline “does not pose an unacceptable risk to the public”.

It also says that the impact of construction on a designated rural area in Rossport would “seriously injure residential amenities” and the development potential of lands there. It notes that part of the pipeline route onshore was omitted from the application.

Shell E&P Ireland has until February 5th, 2010 to respond to a series of points raised by the board, which represents a significant setback for the project’s time schedule.

The revised onshore route application was drawn up by RPS Consultants for the Corrib gas developers on the recommendation of Government mediator Peter Cassells who reported to former energy minister Noel Dempsey in 2006 after the jailing of the Rossport five the previous year.

The original pipeline route had not been subject to planning approval, and consents were issued by former marine minister Frank Fahey. Opposition to it resulted in five Mayo men being jailed for 94 days for contempt of court.

A modified route was submitted by Shell to Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Infrastructure Act last year but was withdrawn some months after a request for additional information.

A new application lodged in February of this year resulted in a 19-day oral hearing in Belmullet, chaired by inspector Martin Nolan.

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RTE NEWS

Decision on Corrib pipeline deferred

watch Tuesday, 3 November 2009 16:31

An Bord Pleanála has deferred making a final decision on the controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo – and has asked Shell Ireland to address concerns it has about its safety.

The 9km onshore pipeline is designed to link the offshore gas field with the multi-million euro refinery which is being built at Bellanaboy.

An Bord Pleanála says the documentation provided by Shell does not present a complete, transparent and adequate demonstration that the pipeline does not pose an unacceptable risk to the public.

It says part of the route – approximately 5.6km – is considered unacceptable because of its proximity to dwelling houses located within its hazard range should a pipeline failure occur.

The board has now written to Shell asking it to consider a series of modification which is considers necessary.

It says that, in principle, having regard to the strategic importance of the Corrib gas field, it was provisionally the view of the board that it would be appropriate to approve the onshore pipeline should the alterations it suggests be made.

It has now invited Shell to submit new proposals on the route of the pipeline; to provide further clarification on the technical design of the pipe and it is also seeking a new statement on Shell’s risk assessment analysis on the pipeline.

Reacting to the decision, John Monaghan, Spokesperson for Pobal Chill Chomáin, said they were not surprised by the decision and were disappointed that An Bord Pleanála did not turn down the application altogether.

Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington said: ‘If over half the pipeline is unacceptable from a Health and Safety perspective it means that the project it has failed under the criteria for sustainable development and good planning.

‘It proves it would be a pipeline to profits for Shell and poverty for the country. So it’s time to renegotiate everything,’ she added.

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THE MAYO NEWS

Monday, 02 November 2009

No red tape for Corrib’s silent protestors

Áine RyanÁine Ryan

As the decision on the new pipeline route for the controversial Corrib gas project is – after two deferrals – finally due today (Tuesday),  two community groups have dubbed the North West Mayo Forum as ‘a sham’ and ‘a wasted opportunity’.

Held yesterday in Rossport’s An Corrán Buí centre, this latest session of the forum was  attended by three government ministers and personnel from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), which has investigated numerous complaints by Corrib protestors.

While both Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal le Chéile boycotted proceedings, in a surprise move, Shell to Sea activists silently attended the proceedings with placards and taped mouths, symbolically showing how ‘the community has been silenced’.

However, according to a spokeswoman for Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, the ministers were delighted at the attendance of the protestors.

“The ministers [Ó Cuív, Eamon Ryan and Dara Calleary] were delighted that Shell to Sea attended the forum, even if they had their mouths taped and did not participate. From the outset there has been an open invitation to attend the forum,” the spokeswoman said.

Speaking to The Mayo News afterwards, Ms Maura Harrington questioned the costliness of three ministers and a squad of civil servants to travelling to remote north Mayo to discuss ‘what could have been stated in a Press Release’.

“This government forum doesn’t talk about the real issues, which are health and safety, our drinking water supply and the giveaway of our natural resources to a private company,” Ms Harrington said.

In a joint statement, the two Pobals said the ‘process is continuing to miss the point at issue in our community, by focussing on ‘development’ about which we are all in agreement. The so-called forum is completely ignoring the health and safety issues surrounding the Corrib gas project, yet these are the specific issues that are continuing to give rise to conflict and disagreement in Erris’.

It continued: “The Ministers’ forum is widely regarded within our community as a sham, and is being used not as an instrument of conflict resolution but as an instrument for Corrib project advancement.”

“This is intentionally dishonest, and exposes the process as a PR-driven device designed to create the illusion of community involvement,” the statement added.

Garda Ombudsman

Meanwhile, personnel from the GSOC, Graham Doyle and Kieran Fitzgerald addressed the government forum and a forum organised by Shell to Sea, entitled the People’s Forum.

Explaining the process for complaints, Mr Doyle said that, in a GSOC survey, the main reasons revealed for not coming forward to make a complaint were that people felt nothing would be done, and, moreover, that their situation with gardaí would deteriorate as a result.

Mr Fitzgerald revealed that since the establishment of the GSOC in May 2007, it had received 111 complaints regarding Corrib policing; that 78 of these were deemed admissable and that seven had files sent to the DPP.
Furthermore, in reports in The Irish Times over the weekend it was revealed that the GSOC has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against a senior member of An Garda Síochána in relation to garda handling of a protest at Pollathomas Pier on June 11, 2007. Around 20 civilians and two gardaí were injured during the fracas, after an elderly landowner objected to Shell contractors entering his lands. The contractors later removed a portacabin from the property on receipt of a letter for his solicitor.

Corrib scholarships

Meanwhile, the 2009 successful applicants for the Corrib Natural Gas Third Level Scholarship Programme has been announced.

There were a total of forty-two applicants for the ten scholarship places. The scholarships are valued at €4,000 per year for the duration of the courses chosen and must be taken up in the year during which they are offered.

According to the Chairman of the independent Scholarship Board, Mr Sean Staunton, the standard of entry was ‘extremely high’ and was a credit to the students, their teachers and parents.

“In these difficult economic times the scholarships will be much appreciated by the students and their parents,” said Sean Staunton, “This is particularly the case for Erris based students because of the distance they are from third level institutions.”

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