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Irish Times: Engineers call for study to find best site for Corrib gas terminal

By: Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Published: Oct 12, 2006

Two chartered engineers have called on Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey to commission a report on the “optimum location” for the controversial Corrib gas terminal, which might help to break the impasse over the 900 million project.

Former Bord Gais official Leo Corcoran and Brian Coyle of Coyle Hamilton in Galway, have also proposed that Shell should suspend any work at Bellanaboy while such a study is undertaken.

Any further activity on the site they state will only “further damage” Shell’s relationship with the community, and will waste resources if the study comes up with an alternative location.

The engineers’ proposal was formulated in response to last week’s endorsement of the Advantica safety review of the onshore pipeline by the professional body, Engineers Ireland.

Mr Corcoran is critical of Engineers Ireland’s analysis, and says Advantica’s terms of reference were too limited.

A former senior engineer on the Cork-Dublin gas pipeline, he has already prepared a complaint lodged by An Taisce with the European Commission over the consents issued for the pipeline by former marine minister Frank Fahey.

In their new report, Mr Corcoran and Mr Coyle identify the key issue as the location of the gas processing terminal 9km (5½ miles) inland at Bellanaboy, which involves running a pipeline through Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

The report claims that modifying the pipeline route away from Rossport, as proposed by Shell, is not the answer, they find, given Bellanaboy’s inherent unsuitability as a terminal site and its proximity to the catchment for a major water supply for Erris. “In order to end this conflict, we would strongly recommend that a new site be found that is outside the catchment of the major water supply and that both the terminal and any pipeline carrying unprocessed gas is kept well away from established communities,” they state.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has informed Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley, in a written Dail reply, that the cost of policing duties for Shell at Bellanaboy to date is 675,639 in overtime plus salaries, and Shell would not be charged as the type of duty was of a “public nature”.

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