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Irish Examiner: Protesters will take Shell fight to elections

By Juno McEnroe
27 January 2007

SHELL objectors yesterday pledged to continue their fight to move gas works offshore despite an environmental watchdog’s key approval of the Mayo Corrib project.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday gave the green light for Shell’s Bellanaboy gas refinery in Mayo. It said the 400-acre site project “would not adversely affect human health or the environment”.

The approval for the onshore terminal comes with 85 conditions however, covering areas such as management, infrastructure, emission, monitoring, handling of waste, accident prevention and the size of the works. Objectors have 28 days to appeal the EPA decision.

Shell to Sea spokesman Dr Mark Garavan warned the controversy was far from over.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the interim decision, but not surprised as the EPA’s remit is not to block development.

“It’s not just about the operation of the terminal, but its construction and the location of the onshore pipeline.”

Dr Garavan and the Rossport Five, the men jailed for objecting to Shell’s works, will now turn to politicians before the election to further objections to the refinery.

“We intend to solidify and mobilise political support through policy agreements.”

Shell yesterday said it welcomed the EPA decision and also vowed to address local concerns about the safety of its near €1 billion project.

Shell manager John Egan said: “The Corrib project is already bringing many benefits to the local area, such as jobs and investment. Since work resumed at the Ballinaboy site in October, almost 200 jobs have been created in the local community. This will rise to 300 jobs when peat haulage resumes in the spring and approximately 700 people will be employed when full construction of the terminal commences in the autumn.”

The EPA has approved the processing of 9.9 million cubic metres of natural gas per day. Waste water will have to be discharged offshore at a depth of 65 metres also. Its inspectors intend to conduct regular audits of the Mayo site as well as “lightning” unannounced checks.

Submissions on the environmental application were received from 35 groups including local landowners, the Department of Marine, councillors as well as county managers. Any oral appeal hearings will be heard in public after February 21. The EPA stressed yesterday it was illegal for it to grant an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence if environmental pollution concerns were evident.

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