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New twists in Corrib route

THE Mayo News

TUESDAY, 16 DECEMBER 2008
New twists in Corrib route

Áine Ryan

OPPONENTS of the controversial Corrib gas project yesterday (Monday) claimed that the latest twist regarding new changes to the proposed modified onshore pipeline route is further vindication of the integral flawed nature of the venture. 

They now intend writing to Joe Brosnan – the chairman of the forum recently established by two Government ministers, Eamon Ryan and Éamon Ó Cuív – to elicit what status the initiative now has.  

On Saturday last The Irish Times revealed that Shell E&P Ireland had withdrawn its planning application to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for the new route, submitted some months ago under the fast-tracking Strategic Infrastructure Act. 

Shell consultants, RPS, said yesterday that ‘a revised application will now seek minor realignments to part of the proposed route for the Corrib onshore pipeline, in order to avoid more sensitive habitat, including bog pools, in the Rossport commonage, identified during recent surveys’.

However, spokesman for community group, Pobal Chill Chomáin, John Monaghan, questioned how such surveys had been undertaken since there was a District Court order preventing Shell from carrying out such invasive works in the commonage. 

RPS also revealed that ‘the updated application will seek, in certain areas, planning approval for a wider route corridor within which the proposed Corrib onshore pipeline will be constructed’. 

In a joint statement, Pobal Chill Chomáin and business group, Pobal le Chéile, observed that this ‘backtrack’ of the planning application shows once again the project is being built ‘on the wrong site’.

“[Both groups] have made it clear in recent statements that we are willing to help the Government and the developers bring this sorry saga to a successful conclusion,” the statement continued, stressing the proviso that the core issues are addressed. 

Other local sources believe the application was withdrawn after it was indicated by the planning board that it could not ‘legally pass the project’. However, a board spokesman declined to comment on the precise reasons that led to the withdrawal.

During August last the board gave the developers six weeks to provide further information relating to the development’s impact on the stability of ground in the area; its environmental impact; and the impact of any extension of the life of the wellfields or ‘extensification’ of wellfields upstream. 

PJ Rudden, RPS Group Director, said yesterday: “The route of the pipeline will largely remain unchanged, and will remain a minimum of 140 metres from occupied dwellings. If approved by An Bord Pleanála, a wider route corridor will ensure that there is the possibility of making further small deviations to the route during the construction phase, should this be deemed necessary, in particular for environmental reasons.” 

However, John Monaghan argued that a new application would not have been submitted unless there were ‘significant changes’.
“Once again Shell is playing fast and loose with the planning process. Where does this leave the statutory consents now?” he asked.
Ms Maura Harrington, of Shell to Sea, said this was further evidence of ‘Shell skulduggery’ and it was time for the company to forget about Rossport, Bellanaboy and Glengad.   

The updated submission will be made early in the new year and will include information on the Srahmore Peat Deposition Site, additional information previously submitted, as well as an updated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in one concise application. It will be made publicly available through the RPS and Shell offices, with all parties will have an opportunity to make submissions through the statutory consultation period.

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