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Irish Times: Shell resumes peat removal at Bellanaboy

Tom Shiel in Castlebar
Published: Apr 03, 2007

Shell E&P Ireland has resumed a massive operation to remove peat from the terminal site at Bellanaboy, Co Mayo, virtually unimpeded. There was one early morning incident, when gardaI seized a van which was being driven at a snail’s pace on the main haulage route and brought it to Belmullet Garda station.

From about 9.40am, a fleet of trucks operated by Shell E&P Ireland contractors began removing the remaining 350,000 tonnes of peat from the terminal area to a deposition site near Bangor-Erris, 11km away.

About 45 protesters gathered outside the main gate to the terminal, but they were marshalled by gardaI and did not attempt to interfere with the operation.

Extra gardaI are on security duty at Bellanaboy this week in the expectation that there might be increased protest activity to coincide with Shell resuming its peat haulage operations. Supt Joseph Gannon said the increased presence would be maintained for the foreseeable future.

Some 100,000 cubic metres of bog had been removed last year when the company decided to suspend excavations and haulage in the face of opposition.

Shell to Sea spokesman John Monaghan expressed disappointment at the resumption of peat haulage “given the fact that so many other issues, such as the route of the online pipeline and water quality in Carrowmore lake, remain unresolved”.

In a statement yesterday Shell welcomed the resumption of work on a project which they said would supply 60 per cent of Ireland’s gas needs. The operation will be completed by October when construction of the onshore gas process plant will begin.

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