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Irish Times: Shell did not adhere to planning requirement, court told

Mary Carolan
Mar 08, 2006
Shell has failed to adhere to a planning condition requiring it to lodge a 20 million security for the costs of the future restoration of the site of the gas terminal connected to the development of the Corrib gas field in Co Mayo, it was claimed in the High Court yesterday.
A written assertion by Shell E&P Ireland in a letter of December 10th, 2004, that its parent company, Shell Overseas Holdings Ltd, would provide such a security “in due course” and subject to the approval of its board does not constitute a legally enforceable security, argued senior counsel Dr Michael Forde, for environmentalist Peter Sweetman.
There was no indication from Shell E&P that the board of its parent company had met since December 2004 to approve any such security, he added. Nor was there any indication in documents before the court as to if and when such approval would be forthcoming.
The situation is akin to telling a bank manager that Daddy will guarantee a loan and will come down “tomorrow” for that purpose but no signature being provided, he contended.
The fact that Mayo County Council has agreed to this arrangement with Shell E&P does not mean that the required security is in place, counsel added.
The council could find itself forced in 20 years, when activity at the gas terminal site near Balinaboy Bridge in Co Mayo had ceased, to take legal proceedings against Shell in an effort to have the site restored to its original condition, Dr Forde said. However, the statute of limitations would apply to the alleged security or contract.
Rejecting those claims, senior counsel Maurice Collins, for Shell E&P, argued his client's letter of December 10th, 2004, constitutes a security that conforms with the planning conditions for the terminal.
It did not matter that there were “formalities yet to be attended to” in relation to the security, Mr Collins said, and there was no basis for the court to intervene.
The hearing has concluded and Mr Justice Thomas Smyth will give judgment on March 14th.

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