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Irish Environment department turns on Shell

The Mayo News

Environment department criticises Shell

TUESDAY, 19 AUGUST 2008
Shell

Environment department criticises Shell

Áine Ryan

SHELL was yesterday criticised by the Department of the Environment (DoE) for providing ‘deficient’ and ‘inadequate’ information in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) it submitted to An Bord Pleanála for the new onshore Corrib pipeline route. 

This comes a day after a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday revealed that a Senior Ecologist with the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), Ms Julie Fossitt, has accused Shell of keeping crucial facts on the pipeline from those experts assessing the company’s application – under the fast-tracking Strategic Infrastructure Act. 

Responding to a number of questions by The Mayo News, a DoE spokesman confirmed Ms Fossitt’s report was in relation to ‘the installation and operation of a gas pipeline from Glengad Head to the refinery at Bellanaboy’.

Substantiating her criticism, he noted that ‘the proposed route passes through Special Areas of Conservation and a Special Protection Area’. 

“It is the view of this Department that the Environmental Impact Statement submitted was deficient and the information provided was inadequate in a number of respects. An Bord Pleanála is seeking clarification on a number of these issues with the applicant,” said the spokesman.

In Ms Fossitt’s internal report – reportedly made public after a local resident made a Freedom of Information application –  she asserts that ‘key information was withheld from specialists whose opinions were included in the planning documents submitted by Shell to An Bord Pleanála last April’. 

Observing that ‘the project ecologists did not have access to key sections of the proposed pipeline route’, she states damningly that protected habitats likely to be affected by the development were excluded from maps provided by the company. The habitats referred to are the Glenamoy Bog Complex and Broadhaven Bay.

In her five-page observation – made after she visited  the site on June 16 last – she describes many aspects of Shell’s EIS as ‘deficient and inadequate’. She also criticises the company for not including adequate monitoring in its EIS and also contradicts Shell’s stance on whether EISs are required.

Meanwhile, Mr John Monaghan, spokesman for Pobail Chill Chomáin, told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) he was seriously alarmed by the implications of Ms Fossitt’s report.

“The potential impact for the onshore part of the project is the same as for the offshore part. The landfall [at Glengad] and the offshore pipeline works are both in the Glenamoy Bog Complex and Broadhaven Bay – in the same SACs. Since the Senior Ecologist has condemned the EIS for the onshore part of the project, her report further indicts the ongoing works,” said Mr Monaghan.  

However, the DoE spokesman challenged Mr Monaghan’s assertion stating that ‘the work proposed under this planning application is separate from that being undertaken at present, which involves the laying of a mostly submarine pipeline from the wellhead to landfall at Glengad Head’.

He stated: “This work is proceeding under consents issued by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.”

Mr Monaghan also revealed that on Sunday night last (August 17) three sections of fencing collapsed at the onshore works on Glengad beach. It emerged last night (Monday) that after Shell workers repaired the fencing during the day, it collapsed again at high tide last night. He also said that ‘quite a large section of the trench [being dug by Shell] close to the shore had also been backfilled with sand, stone and gravel during the bad weather over the weekend’. 

“This does not give us a lot of confidence in Shell’s workmanship,” said Mr Monaghan. 

Shell spokesman, Mr Colin Joyce, said he could not comment specifically on Ms Fossitt’s report. 

“There is an ongoing statutory process and the board [ABP] has been in contact with us for further information and we are providing that,” said Mr Joyce.

Asked about the scheduled arrival of the Solitaire to north Mayo, he said it was ‘still weather dependent and contingent on the completion of preparatory works’. 

Mr Joyce declined to comment on what actions the company may take if a group of canoeists – as publicised on the Shell to Sea website – attempt to implement a blockade and impede work.  

Spokesman for Shell to Sea, Ms Maura Harrington, told The Mayo News that ‘Shell to Sea will be going to sea to greet the Solitaire and make its presence known’.

“We have also been in contact with its owners, based in Switzerland, to inform them of the unresolved issues with the receiving community,” Ms Harrington said. 

http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4762&Itemid=38

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