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Irish Times: Petition opposing new Shell pipeline route wins support

By: Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Published: Sep 11, 2006

Residents of the north Mayo community of Glengad have expressed support for their Rossport neighbours with a new petition expressing opposition to the onshore gas pipeline. However, Shell E&P Ireland has said the petition may be based on “misinformation”.

Shell is due to unveil plans for its public consultation on finding a modified pipeline route in the coming days, but intends to resume work at the Bellanaboy terminal site in advance of any final agreement.

The petition was initiated by John McAndrew, a builder and resident in Glengad, who lives close to the landfall for the pipeline running from the gas field onshore. Residents in the majority of 30 households in the area have signed the petition. Two of them own land on the pipeline route.

The two landowners had agreed to the compulsory acquisition orders issued by former marine minister Frank Fahey in 2002, but believed they were consenting to a distribution pipeline, carrying gas at much lower pressure.

“They didn’t recognise the seriousness of it,” Mr McAndrew said. The petition was still being circulated, but already had some 300 signatures in a sparsely populated area, he said. The wording states residents do not want the pipeline coming through Glengad “in its present state”.

“We are not opposed to the Corrib gas project, but we are very worried about the safety involved in bringing unrefined gas onshore along a 9km route to the Bellanaboy terminal,” Mr McAndrew said.

“Several householders in neighbouring areas also told us they were opposed to the terminal.” Mr McAndrew said the petition was prompted by comments made by Government mediator Peter Cassells in his recent report, in which he proposed a modified route for the pipeline to take it away from housing in Rossport. “Mr Cassells said that he had talked to people, but he never talked to us, and I am living within a quarter mile of the isolation valve for this pipe.”

A Shell E&P Ireland spokesman said it had not received a copy of the petition. He said: “The context in which questions were put and the information given is not clear, and we believe that information given by the petitioners about the beach head valve was misleading. People in the local community will take such a survey with more than a pinch of salt.”

The Shell spokesman said the company would be announcing shortly its consultation procedure for modifying the pipeline route and would welcome the views of local people.

Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the Shell to Sea campaign, said the results “show the extent of local support for our campaign, and the extent of opposition to Shell’s project”.

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