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Irish Times: Shell to Sea rejects pipeline proposals

Last Updated: 24/09/2007  15:07
Clodagh Mulvey

Shell to Sea representatives today said they reject Shell E&P’s latest proposals for three possible new routes for the proposed Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

Shell E&P consultants RPS today published a shortlist of the three possible onshore gas corridors, which it says offers “the best prospect of satisfying the community, environmental and technical criteria” for the controversial project.

RPS director P. J. Rudden, said experts – including archaeologists, ecologists, engineers and marine specialists – would examine the proposed routes further but that the suggested routes would go on public display this Wednesday at the RPS project office in Belmullet, Co Mayo.

Shell to Sea spokesman John Monaghan told that four campaign representatives will visit the RPS project office at 4pm today to return invitations sent by Shell E&P to a preview of the new proposals on Tuesday evening “to show our displeasure at the lack of consultation with us.”

“This is dictation not consultation,” he said. “The community has voiced its displeasure at the proposed pipeline, and an alternative route is not addressing the fundamental problem. A pipeline is not acceptable to the local community – it is exposing us to unnecessary health and environmental risks. But Shell is repeatedly ignoring this and it is pretty insulting,” he added.

“If they (Shell) push ahead, they’re going to get the same response as in 2004 and 2005 in Rossport. Is Shell prepared to go through this again?” he added.

All three of the newly proposed routes are within designated environmentally sensitive areas under the EU Habitats Directive.

A final route is expected to be selected from the proposals by the end of this year, and RPS says approval for the onshore pipeline is still possible if it can be proven that environmental impact can be minimised using what it calls “controlled construction techniques”.

The firm also says it will then submit the pipeline route to An Bord Pleanála for approval under the Strategic Infrastructure Act – the first time the project has sought planning permission.

But the planning board’s remit extends only to the inshore section of the proposed pipeline, and the board will decide next week whether the project qualifies under the fast-tracking legislation.

Shell E&P will also need to secure the consent of Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan under the Gas Acts, who opposed the pipeline when in opposition. Shell E&P is also awaiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision on the integrated pollution-prevention control licence for the terminal at Bellanaboy – which has already received Bord Pleanála approval.

RPS says the three proposed corridors aim to “increase the distance between the pipeline and the nearest dwelling” and include:

Corridor A: from the landfall for the offshore pipeline at Glengad to the refinery at Bellanaboy, diverts north from the previously approved route, and RPS says it is further away from homes and avoids population clusters over much of its length of 10.5km. It traverses commonage east of Rossport, and also crosses blanket bog within the Glenamoy Bog Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Corridor B: from Glengad to the terminal is 8.3 km long and travels mostly on land, but involves two crossings of the bay and a transit via Aughoose. Consultants say that there are “no homes within the 300 metre corridor”.

Corridor C: from Glengad to the refinery is identified as one of the shortest corridor options at 8.2 km, but traverses 4.5km of Sruwaddacon bay SAC.

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