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Irish Times: Shell denies it is looking at alternative pipe route

Irish Times: Shell denies it is looking at alternative pipe route

Tuesday July 12, 2005

Lorna Siggins and Liamy McNally

The Marine Institute has confirmed that one of the State’s research vessels, Celtic Voyager, has been hired by Shell to carry out survey work in Broadhaven Bay. However, Shell E&P Ireland has denied that it is considering an alternative route for the onshore gas link.

The ship is currently in Co Donegal on phytoplankton work associated with the recent red tide, and is expected in Co Mayo within the next few days.

Initially it will conduct phytoplankton sampling in Killary fjord, but is then to be deployed to Broadhaven Bay on a “bare board” contract – whereby only the ship’s crew, but no Marine Institute scientists, will be on board, the Marine Institute said.

The work is expected to take three to four days, and the contract was arranged before the current controversy surrounding the pipeline.

Shell E&P Ireland said the ship is being used by a Dublin consultancy, EcoServe Ltd, to conduct an environmental survey off Broadhaven Bay.

The consultancy is engaged in a collection of baseline informational data, a spokesman for Shell said. This is being undertaken in consultation with the Marine Institute, North-West Fisheries Board and other fisheries groups.

Several routes for the high- pressure pipeline were considered in the early stages of the €900 million Corrib gas project.

One alternative route to the Bellanaboy terminal would involve running the pipeline up Sruwaddacon Bay, which is a special protection area for birds within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Broadhaven Bay is also an SAC and a study carried out for Corrib’s former developers, Enterprise Energy Ireland, by University College Cork scientists also showed that it was a significant area for marine mammals and other species.

The study was published after compulsory acquisition orders were issued for the selected route by the Minister for the Marine.

In a separate development, gardaI in Mayo have confirmed that the number of gardai on duty outside Shell’s three sites in Erris is to be increased this week.

Supt PJ Durkin of Belmullet, Co Mayo, said Garda manpower would be increased outside the Bellanaboy terminal site, the compound at Rossport and the pipeline landfall site at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain.

Supt Durkin confirmed that gardaI were being brought in from other districts throughout the Mayo division and from surrounding counties.

He said tensions were very high, and the Garda wanted to make sure that the situation was kept under control.

Meanwhile Fine Gael leader and Mayo TD Enda Kenny has denied that his party has proposed appointing a binding mediator to try to resolve the situation involving the five residents in jail.

Mr Kenny was responding to a claim made by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) lecturer Mark Garavan at a rally in Belmullet on Saturday.

Mr Kenny said that he had met the five men in jail last Friday, and had contacted the Taoiseach and had spoken to Shell and Mayo County Council.

“I have made a series of proposals, which I believe will be helpful in this situation,” Mr Kenny said in a statement yesterday. “Binding mediation is not one of those.”

He said he hoped his party’s contribution would be “helpful and not obstructionist”.

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