Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image New Corrib pipeline still in pre-planning limbo

Tuesday, 14 August 2007 
Áine Ryan

SIX months after an initial application was made to re-route the Corrib gas pipeline an Bórd Pleanála (ABP) has still failed to decide whether the case comes under the jurisdiction of the recently-instituted Strategic Infrastructure Act or will revert to the local authority (Mayo County Council).

However, independent consultants RPS have confirmed to The Mayo News that such a determination is contingent on the full planning application being made once a specific route is decided upon.

While an ABP spokeswoman said that ‘pre-consultation meetings’ were ongoing, and that the board had still to make a determination regarding its statutory status, Mr PJ Rudden of RPS insisted the application came under the recently-implemented Strategic Infrastructure Act (2006).

“It is our understanding that we will be making our application for the onshore pipeline to the board under that act. The application for the entire pipeline will be to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources [Éamon Ryan] under Section 40 of the Gas Act and there will be a separate application for a Foreshore Licence under the Foreshore Act,” said Mr Rudden.

He added that while Mayo County Council was a ‘statutory consultee’, the final decision on the pipeline route would ‘be down to ABP and Minister Ryan’.

RPS had been due to announce a shortlist of four possible new pipeline routes for the controversial project during July. Mr Rudden confirmed yesterday (Monday) that the company was ‘in the final stages of shortlisting’ and that publication would now be no later than the second week of September. He also said the final route would be announced by October, with a full planning application being made in November.

He discounted suggestions that the consultative process was ‘a charade’ and that Shell had already a preferred route for the pipeline.

Meanwhile, an informal visit by Minister Ryan to Rossport on Thursday last has been broadly welcomed, but with significant reservations.  According to Rossport Five’s, Vincent McGrath, the Minister had, unlike his predecessor, Noel Dempsey, ‘at least visited the area’.

“He offered no solutions and while we welcome his visit, it is no substitute for a formal meeting [which Shell to Sea has requested]. We reminded him of An Taisce’s complaint to the EU regarding the siting of the refinery in a water catchment area and of the fact that we haven’t changed our goalposts [the protest is currently centred on the refinery rather than the route]. I wrote to Minister Dermot Ahern in 2002 about the refinery’s location,” said Vincent McGrath.

Mary Corduff, wife of Goldman environmental award winner, Willie, said she and her husband had pulled no punches when the Minister arrived at their isolated farmhouse last Thursday evening.

“Everyone is always welcome in our kitchen, but we told him in no uncertain terms the campaign was not over and that the pipeline would never be laid because there is no consent for it in this community. We also reminded him of all our friends in Europe and the US working on our behalf,” said Mary Corduff.

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