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Irish Independent: Shell proposes new routes in bid to end pipeline row: Garda injured in fresh clashes with Corrib Gas protesters

By Shane Hickey and Tom Shiel
Wednesday June 13 2007

EIGHT alternative routes for the Corrib Gas pipeline were outlined yesterday.

The move is intended to break the deadlock in the ongoing dispute about the routing of the controversial pipeline.

Yesterday consultants RPS, which is employed by the partners behind the pipeline, outlined the eight new routes for the line, four of which are in the Rossport area and four from different start points.

The new routes will now go to public consultation with a more defined shortlist to be drawn up next month. However, even before the routes were announced, opponents said it was going to be extremely difficult to see how the situation could be resolved.

Director of RPS PJ Rudden said two of the completely different routes originated from Inver, one from Portacloy and another from Glinsk. All of them will terminate in the Bellanaboy terminal.

The other four are based on modifications on the existing pipeline plan in the Rossport area. RPS yesterday held an open day in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel in Belmullet to communicate the new plans.

Over 200 registered landowners on the corridors were identified and invited to the hearing.

Clashes between protesters and the gardai continued on Monday night when locals and members of the Shell to Sea campaign group attempted to prevent contractors from erecting a security cabin at Pollathomas Pier.

Shell to Sea campaign spokesperson PJ Moran said the clashes were some of the worst in recent times.

Mr Moran objected to the company looking for public support for the new routes when it was still trying to impose its will on local people. A garda sergeant received eight stitches in an alleged assault during Monday night’s violent protest.

Gardai claim that the officer was knocked off Pollathomas Pier onto rocks during a clash with protesters and had to receive medical teatment.

A man, who is a prominent member of the Shell to Sea campaign, is expected to appear at Belmullet District Court today in connection with the incidents.

The protest at Pollathomas harbour took place when locals and members of the Shell to Sea campaign attempted to prevent contractors from erecting the security cabin.

Undertaking

It was to be used by a survey boat undertaking a seabed study as part of Shell E&P Ireland’s attempts to find new routes for the onshore pipeline.

Gardai and protesters clashed as the cabin was being erected and there was a further standoff yesterday with tensions remaining high in the area.

Gardai have increased their security presence in the bay with the deployment of patrol boats.

Shell to Sea say the series of incidents represents a serious escalation of tensions. They say Shell’s contractor, RPS, intended to site the portacabin-type container on the pier where the only roadway suitable for vehicles is private property and the local landowner had not given permission for machinery to use it. The controversial cabin was being put in place on the pier in preparation for survey work on Sruwaddacon Bay.

A Garda spokesman has denied claims that gardai or Shell personnel had been trespassing. He said workers had permission to cross Council property to erect the shed.

Shell E&P Ireland issued a statement stating that Pollathomas pier was a public pier with public right of access. Shell said it regretted the incidents.

– Shane Hickey and Tom Shiel

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