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Company defends security operations at Corrib gas sites

Irish Times

Friday, June 26, 2009

ÁINE RYAN

SHELL EP Ireland yesterday defended the ongoing security operation at its Corrib gas sites in north Mayo on the final day of a Bord Pleanála hearing into the development.

Shell also revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency this week categorised an application by the company for a modification of the project’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Licence – to fulfil an agreement with the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association about discharge to Broadhaven Bay – as “a license review” rather than “a technical amendment”.

In a closing statement to the board hearing into Shell’s modified pipeline route, Esmonde Keane, counsel for the company, observed that the “current pipeline application must be seen in the context of the developments which it serves and its strategic importance”.

He said that the large security presence was justified in light of threats to Shell personnel.

“Repeated references have been made by objectors to security. It must be pointed out that the necessity for security and the presence of An Garda Síochána has been to keep the peace in the light of numerous attempts by individuals to cause damage and injury to persons lawfully working on the site.”

Alluding to the long history of the project, Mr Keane said this application was before the board “against a background of a previously approved route which had met intractable opposition from one section of the community and which had resulted in significant efforts to alleviate concerns which were held by certain members of the community.”

He cited the various permissions and consents and noted that “no other development proposal has been subject to such an amount of study and surveys over such a period of time”.

Responding to “inaccuracies” in other submissions, Mr Keane argued that all of “the development which has or is currently being carried out has been properly assessed and is in compliance with all national and European legislation”.

Addressing the alternative onshore proposal for a terminal at the remote Glinsk site, Mr Keane said “not only would the landfall at Glinsk involve tunnelling through significant cliffs but the corridor commencing at Glinsk would traverse the Glenamoy Bog Complex for approximately 5.5km and would involve impacting on extensive areas of undisturbed blanket bog”.

Earlier, in her closing remarks, Maura Harrington of Shell to Sea dismissed the Department of Energy’s contention that the Corrib gas was intrinsic to the country’s future “security of supply”.

She said: “In his evidence to the hearing Mr Stuart Basford confirmed that the maximum flow rate of Corrib (350 million standard cubic feet per day) would only last to Year Three.

“Mr Basford further confirmed that, given the country’s current energy requirements, even the maximum flow rate in the first three years would not provide 60 per cent of these energy needs,” said Ms Harrington. A decision is expected around August.

Chances of striking oil off Irish coast slim: Opinion Analysis page 13; Marathon selling share in Corrib: Business This Week, page 1

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

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