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Irish Independent: Shell pledges new Corrib route

Published: Aug 04, 2006

Rossport Five group dismisses ‘tweaking’ of pipeline

SHELL has pledged to change the route of the Corrib gas pipeline in an attempt to get the 1bn project back on track.

The company is also promising to invest more of the proceeds in the local community and to withdraw its legal action against the Rossport Five, who were jailed for 94 days for their opposition to the project.

Alternative

It comes less than a week after the independent mediator Peter Cassels recommended an alternative route for the pipeline after finding that locals were concerned about its proximity to their houses.

But the Shell to Sea group said the Rossport Five would not accept Shell’s new offer.

“The reality is that nothing in this project has been changed at any kind of serious level and merely tweaking a pipeline route through more or less the same corridor in Rossport certainly falls way short of what is required,” said spokesman Mark Garavan.

Mr Garavan said the men were dissatisfied with Shell’s offer to withdraw its High Court injunction against them.

“There are serious legal implications that arise in terms of how Shell have used the High Court injunction process. They have spent three months each in prison on the foot of proceedings that Shell have now decided to drop without any full hearing of the issue,” he said.

The Rossport Five have called for Shell to process the gas offshore rather than at the proposed gas refinery in Bellanaboy, and have declared their willingness to go to jail again over the issue if this is not done.

The original route for the 9km pipeline from Rossport to the gas refinery would have crossed over the lands of 34 people, and would have come within 70 metres of some homes.

Shell has promised a field study in consultation with local people to devise an alternative route.

Its managing Andy Pyle Managing Director said the company had also publicly apologised to the Rossport Five and had accepted the results of the independent safety review, which said the pressure in the pipeline should be lowered from 345 bars to 144 bars.

“I believe that these changes together with today’s announcements mark a real turning point in this project. We intend to move forward now in partnership with the local community so that this project can be delivered for the benefit of Erris, County Mayo and Ireland,” he said.

Shell was unable to state how much extra money it would invest into a fund for the local community in Rossport, but the company has pledged to provide 700 jobs during construction and a further 50 permanent jobs.

No work has been carried out on the construction of the pipeline or the gas refinery since last year.

A spokeswoman for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey said Shell’s move was a very positive development.

“He feels that over the last 12 months, Shell have learned from their mistakes and have shown they are willing to address reasonable concerns. He also feels that it is in the national interest for the Corrib Gas field to happen.”

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny welcomed Shell’s offer to drop its injunction currently in place against the Rossport Five.

The Pro Erris Gas Group said it believed Shell’s new offer was a great opportunity to re-start the pipeline project again.

“I think it’s even a great victory for Shell to Sea and the Rossport Five and they should be very happy with it,” said its secretary John Rowland.

He said they could not ‘change the goalposts’ now.

Michael Brennan

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