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Shell asks for more time to resolve Corrib gas issues

IRISH TIMES – Monday, February 1, 2010

LORNA SIGGINS Western Correspondent

SHELL EP Ireland has asked An Bord Pleanála for more time to resolve issues relating to the Corrib gas pipeline.

The lead Corrib gas developer was given a deadline of next Friday for revised information, following An Bord Pleanála’s direction that up to half of the proposed onshore route was unsafe.

The company was also required to submit a revised environmental impact statement by Friday.

Last November, An Bord Pleanála suggested Shell might consider another route, down the Sruwaddacon estuary, as an alternative to the modified route identified by the developers.

The board said the modified route was “unacceptable” on safety grounds due to the proximity of housing in Rossport and between Glengad and Aughoose.

The modified route had been drawn up by consultants RPS for Shell on the advice of Government mediator Peter Cassells in 2006, and was submitted for planning approval under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.

The original nine kilometre route had been exempt from planning and the controversy over this led to the jailing of the Rossport Five.

Shell has confirmed to The Irish Times that it is seeking more time.

The company said its planning consultants RPS wrote to the appeals board on January 15th indicating it had “made good progress in responding positively to the board’s request for further information”.

“Due to the complexity and extent of the studies required, however, Shell EP Ireland advised the board that further time would be needed to complete this work,” it said in a statement.

It said it also asked for some “clarification” from the appeals board on technical points raised in the board’s letter of November 2nd last in which it issued its direction.

Shell asked formally for additional time to submit a “complete response” on January 27th and the company says it has also received a reply from the board to its technical queries and is “studying the contents of this letter”.

An Bord Pleanála has indicated that it will reopen the oral hearing into the pipeline when it has studied the information from the company and it may also accept new submissions.

Separately, Shell says it is “progressing” a submission to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which seeks to revise its emissions licence for the project.

The company secured the integrated pollution prevention control licence in 2007 and subsequently gave an undertaking to Erris fishermen that it would also use an “alternative” method of discharging produced treated water from the Corrib gas refinery at Ballinaboy.

The undertaking was given as part of a deal brokered with the Erris Fishermen’s Association in return for co-operation on laying the project’s offshore pipe.

The fishermen were concerned that marine emissions from an outfall pipe would have a negative impact on Broadhaven Bay.

In August 2008, the EPA said the changes would require a revised IPPC licence application.

The company completed laying its offshore pipe last summer, but says it will honour the agreement with the fishermen.


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