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Irish Times: Court rules out challenge to Shell planning permission

Irish Times: Court rules out challenge to Shell planning permission

Posted Thursday 28 July 2005

The High Court has refused to permit a local man bring a challenge to An Bord Pleanala’s granting of planning permission to Shell E&P Ireland Ltd to develop a gas terminal in connection with the off-shore Corrib gas field.

Martin Harrington, of Geesala, Ballina, who lives about 20 miles from the proposed terminal, had sought leave to bring the judicial review proceedings arising from his concerns about the granting of permission to develop the terminal at a site at Bellanaboy.

In a reserved judgment yesterday, Mrs Justice Fidelma Macken said she found that Mr Harrington had not established to the court’s satisfaction that there were substantial grounds for permitting him to commence judicial review proceedings.

Mr Harrington’s intended proceedings were against An Bord Pleanala and the State, with Shell E&P Ltd and Mayo County Council named as notice parties.

The judge said the proposed gas terminal was to be used for the reception and separation of gas from the Corrib gas field, located 80km (50ml) west of the Mullet peninsula.

The entire undertaking would consist of a number of sub-sea gas wells flowing into an underwater pipeline. A collection system would be placed on the seabed and a pipeline would come ashore and run underground to the proposed terminal. The proposed site upon which the terminal was to be built had an area of 160 hectares.

The actual terminal building, together with some ancillary buildings and the immediate surrounding area, comprised about 13 hectares and was enclosed by a perimeter or security fence.

The pipeline from the gas field would run underground from the Mayo coastline at a point where it would come ashore at Dooncarten to the terminal site at Ballnaboy. It ran over ground only within 13-hectare site.

On April 30th, 2001, Shell E&P applied to the council for planning permission for the development of the gas terminal. After a number of applications, appeals and refusals, planning permission was granted by An Bord Pleanala on December 22nd, 2004, subject to several conditions.

The planning permission was sought and granted in respect of a development within the 13-hectare site surrounded by the perimeter fence.

It was in respect of the December 22nd, 2004, decision that the proceedings were now sought to be instituted by Mr Harrington. Mrs Justice Macken said Mr Harrington, in his proposed proceedings, was seeking an order quashing An Bord Pleanala’s decision.

He sought a declaration that the board had failed, prior to making its decision to grant permission, to ensure that it had all the necessary information it was required to have in accordance with a 1996 EU directive relating to the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances.

The judge found that Mr Harrington had not made out a case that there were substantial grounds for contesting the validity of the grant of planning permission on the basis of “an alleged independent obligation” of the board to form an opinion whether the terminal area was an establishment within the meaning of the 1996 directive.

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