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Shell expects pipeline protest to escalate

The Irish Times – Friday, September 17, 2010

ÁINE RYAN in Belmullet

SHELL EP Ireland has said if permission is given for the last section of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline, it expects local resistance to escalate.

The resumed An Bord Pleanála hearing into the project, which opened three weeks ago, has been extended for another week due to lengthy questioning by objectors.

At yesterday’s hearing in Belmullet, Co Mayo, Shell expert witnesses addressed questions put by locals about design, stability and safety of the project.

Retired teacher Maura Harrington asked if Shell accepted that if the application is approved by An Bord Pleanála that “resistance will continue and in all probability escalate?”

In response, Esmonde Keane, senior counsel for Shell, said: “We certainly hope not [but] it would be unrealistic to expect people wouldn’t continue to object to the project given its history.”

However, he said he hoped the oral hearing process would help to assure people the pipeline was safe. The resumed hearing is deliberating on a revised application by Shell, which involves tunnelling a section of the pipeline route under the Sruwaddacon estuary, an area of conservation.

It has also examined compulsory acquisition orders by Shell for access to lands along the newly modified route, the third proposed by the developer.

Gerry Costelloe, for Shell, said the codes of practice for safety to be applied to the project had been set by a technical advisory group under the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

The hearing continues today.

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