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Irish Times: EPA holds hearing on licence for Corrib gas refinery

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent,
Published: Apr 16, 2007

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to open its oral hearing in north Mayo today into awarding a pollution control licence for the Corrib gas refinery.

The integrated pollution prevention control licence (IPCC) is one of the last in a disparate number of State consents required for the controversial 900 million project.

The EPA has already given the application by the Corrib gas partners provisional approval.

Shell E&P Ireland, the company behind the refinery, An Taisce, the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association, local priest Fr Michael Nallen and individual members of the Shell to Sea campaign are among 12 appellants to the preliminary ruling, published in January.

However, Mayo Independent TD Dr Jerry Cowley and Seanad election candidate Dr Mark Garavan have called for a comprehensive, independent review of the entire Corrib gas project.

The IPCC licence addresses emissions into the atmosphere and the marine and inland environment, as well as the environmental management of the facility.

The EPA’s preliminary approval states that it is “satisfied” that emissions, “when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence, will not adversely affect human health or the environment and will meet all relevant national and EU standards”.

To date, the EPA has not overturned an interim decision of this nature.

Dr Cowley and Dr Garavan said yesterday that while they welcomed the opportunity provided by the EPA hearing, it did not allow for “a full assessment of the development concept under which Corrib is being developed”.

“The opportunity for real public participation in shaping how this project is to be progressed with consent and agreement has been and will, unfortunately, remain missing,” they have said in a joint statement.

Dr Cowley and Dr Garavan have reiterated their call for the establishment of an independent commission to “determine the best development model for Corrib guided by the twin criteria of best available technology and community agreement”.

The European Parliament petitions committee could have some role to play in this, they state.

The oral hearing in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Belmullet, is to be chaired by Frank Clinton, senior inspector with the EPA Office of Licensing and Guidance.

It is expected to last several weeks.

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