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Irish Times: Parish priest objects to Shell project

Lorna Siggins & Aine Ryan
Published: Mar 01, 2007

The negative social and environmental implications of the Corrib gas controversy on “the parish, community and beyond” have been strongly highlighted in an objection by the parish priest of Kilcommon (Erris, north Mayo) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his submission, Fr Michael Nallen argues that “[our] environment is more precious, in both the long and short term, than economics”.

A native of Belmullet, Fr Nallen said there were various concerns “which had driven him” to formulate his submission. His primary concern, he said, was for “the decent, good and ordinary people who are hurting”.

“Our Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell has used spin saying it’s [been hijacked by] Sinn Fein, but these people who are up and down to the [ Bellanaboy] gates every morning, are traditionally Fianna Fail and Fine Gael,” said Fr Nallen.

Fr Nallen’s submission is among 12 objections to the preliminary decision by the EPA to grant an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence to Shell, four of which have called for an oral hearing.

In his written observation, he observes “[it] is evident that the Corrib gas project is adversely impacting on many people whether they are for or against the chosen method of development”. He adds that people have “health, safety, environmental and sociological worries for the future facing them”.

Meanwhile, at a public meeting held this week the engineering consultancy hired by Shell E&P Ireland to work on a modified route for the Corrib gas onshore pipeline has urged north Mayo residents to contribute to consultation.

The meeting, held in Belmullet, heard that RPS engineering has initiated discussions with the local community and landowners about the criteria for selecting a new route, and this “initial phase” is expected to last until the end of April, according to the Corrib gas partners.

The engineering company hopes that “viable pipeline corridors” will be available by this date for “further consideration by the local community”.

RPS and Shell say they also intend to contact landowners and local residents over the coming weeks. RPS has opened an office in Belmullet, Co Mayo, and its group director, P J Rudden, said he was “pleased with the response” to the company’s first public meeting on the new pipeline route.

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