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Irish Independent: Fuel giant warned on breach of permits over pipeline

Irish Independent: Fuel giant warned on breach of permits over pipeline

“NATURAL Resources Minister Noel Dempsey has told Shell he regards it as being in breach of the “consents” they received for work on the controversial Mayo gas pipeline.”

Monday 1 August 2005

NATURAL Resources Minister Noel Dempsey has told Shell he regards it as being in breach of the “consents” they received for work on the controversial Mayo gas pipeline.

It is understood that Mr Dempsey wrote to Shell Ireland last night following an earlier exchange of letters between his Department and the company.

He has told them he wants them to “undo” the work that they have carried out in this regard.

He has also told them there will be increased monitoring of the Shell operation.

Five Mayo men, now known as the Rossport Five, have been in prison for more than a month.

They were jailed for contempt of court following their protests over the Shell development.

The row over the pipeline has escalated in the past couple of weeks amid allegations that Shell had carried out works on the pipeline which exceeded what it had been given permission to do.

Mr Dempsey wrote to Shell over a week ago telling them he had formed the view that a breach of the “Phase Three Consent” issued by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in July 2002 had occurred.

Shell wrote back towards the end of the week saying it regretted its actions had “caused the Minister to take the view” that it had acted outside the consents.

Now, the Minister has firmed up his view that a breach has taken place.

And while it is understood Shell had already offered to undo the disputed work, Mr Dempsey has now told them he requires that course of action to be taken.

The five farmers who are in jail in Cloverhill Prison have refused to purge their contempt.

Until they do so they will be remaining behind bars.

The men have led the campaign against the pipeline which they claim runs close to their homes and those of other members of the Rossport community and, they claim, constitutes a danger to them.

Meanwhile, Mr Dempsey will have to decide shortly on another application by Shell to build an offshore pipeline in the area.

This is a separate application from the onshore pipeline which is at the centre of the jailed men’s campaign.

The Minister is currently considering that offshore application and, it is believed, will make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

His Department is currently compiling all relevant information on this.

It is believed that the legal advice to the Minister is that he cannot unreasonably withhold “consents” to this once the company complies with the conditions laid down for the work.

Gene McKenna Political Editor

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