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The Mayo News: Shell to Sea seek meeting

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NEW ROUTES
Áine Ryan
Wednesday, 20 June 2007

SHELL TO SEA will seek an early meeting with three newly-appointed ministers whom the protest group believes could help broker a breakthrough in the controversial Corrib gas project.

The Mayo News has learned the group plans to seek meetings with Green Ministers Eamon Ryan (Communications, Energy and Natural Resources), John Gormley (Environment, Heritage and Local Government) and Fianna Fáil’s Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan.

While the group places some hope in the fact the last National Convention of the Green Party, (held in February last in Galway) unanimously endorsed a motion supporting Dr Mark Garavan’s call for an Independent Review into the project, it seems Minister Ryan, a long-time supporter of the campaign, has already distanced himself somewhat from the concept.   

The convention adopted a motion which stated: “That the Green Party in government will not approve of a proposed pipeline consent being signed as part of the Corrib gas project until the completion of a full, independent review into the best development concept for the project.” However, while on the Pat Kenny Radio Show last week, hosted by Tom McGurk, Minister Ryan acknowledged the party had failed to have this included in the Programme for Government.  

“The first and primary thing is that there has to be an EPA approval in terms of the licencing there – the project requires that. Also, the whole consent process for the, I think, eight alternative pipeline routes has to be gone through and that will be what we have to process. I don’t believe, or we weren’t able to agree, the possibility of such a widespread review of the whole project, but I think what we will try and do is ensure that the process and the licencing and consent process goes through in as open and as consultative a manner as is possible,” he said.

Coincidentally, last Tuesday independent consultants, RPS, employed by the Corrib Gas Partners, made a detailed presentation to the public of eight new proposed corridors for the revised pipeline routes in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Belmullet.

“We have made every effort to be as comprehensive, transparent and open as possible about the criteria that will be used in the route selection process, as well as being clear about the phases we are going through to find the best alternative route for the onshore Corrib pipeline. On behalf of Corrib Gas Partners, we are honouring the recommendation issued by Mr Peter Cassells, to ‘modify the route of the pipeline in the vicinity of Rossport [and] to address community concerns regarding proximity to housing’. We have therefore sent letters to over 200 registered landowners in the pipeline study area,” said RPS Director, Mr Rudden.

“At this point, some of the corridors look to be more suitable than others, but we want to get the views of the local community and other interested parties before we begin ‘walkover’ surveys to identify a shortlist of preferred corridors next month. Landowner agreement will be sought before any lands are included in these walk-over surveys,” added Mr Rudden.

However, Shell to Sea spokesman, Mr John Monaghan, challenged Mr Rudden’s contentions, arguing that, not only were some of these corridor options ‘not viable at all’, they had apparently been publicly discounted by Shell employees some time ago. This was confirmed to The Mayo News by Chairman of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association, Mr Eddie Diver.

“They rejected some of the marine approaches to the landfall on environmental grounds and the length of the gas pipe, as far as I can recall. In fact, I think they refer to this in their EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]. I’m particularly referring to the Glinsk and Portacloy corridors,” said Mr Diver.

Mr Monaghan said that the community of Bunowna, was ‘not only down-wind of the refinery site’ but also, due to its proximity to one of the corridors, ‘now brought closer to a possible pipeline route’. 

This is the area where last week’s forest fire occurred, and, at its closest, is situated about one-and-a-half kilometres from the proposed refinery.

However, Shell spokeswoman, Ms Karen Cahill said:“Any dwelling on the proposed new routes will be more than 70 metres away. Just to clarify, these are corridors [300 metres wide], not specific routes. The [Advantica] Independent Safety Review deemed the original pipeline route safe but Peter Cassells, as part of the mediation process. suggested this modification in the interest of addressing community concerns regarding proximity to housing.” 

Meanwhile, John Monaghan claims many new people from the area have become actively involved in the protest since last week’s clash between gardaí and protestors at Pollathomas pier, during an attempt by Shell to place a security hut to facilitate marine-survey work. The group plan to report the incident to the Garda Ombudsman Complaints Commission and to the Health and Safety Authority, said Mr Monaghan.

http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1790&Itemid=38

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