Monday, 24 January 2011

'Trying to buy support with money will never solve this'

REACTION: CORRIB GAS developer Shell E&P Ireland says it hopes An Bord Pleanála’s “thorough examination” and “endorsement” of its revised pipeline route “will allow people to feel their concerns have been fully addressed”.

Shell Ireland’s managing director Terry Nolan says the company is “committed to working positively with the local community throughout the construction period and thereafter”, and “was looking forward to completing the final phase”.

However, community group Pobal Chill Chomáin is examining legal options, while Shell to Sea has warned that “opposition to Shell’s inland refinery and high- pressure onshore pipeline will continue and escalate”.

The Pro-Gas Mayo group, representing some business interests, says: “As democrats, we hope all right-thinking people will abide by the decision and bring this long-running saga to an end. We also note with approval the financial conditions, which will greatly benefit the local area.”

A recommendation by the inspector that an €8.5 million “community gain investment fund” be paid over five years by Shell and partners, which would be held in trust by Mayo County Council, has angered residents living closer to the project.

Mary Corduff, whose husband Willie was one of five men jailed over opposition to the pipeline in 2005, said she was surprised the inspector did not recognise that “trying to buy support with money will never solve this issue”. This fund could be written off by Shell against tax, she said.

She also expressed concern that monitoring of the pipeline’s operation had been given to Mayo County Council, which “approved this project way back when it was clearly not safe to do so”.

Ms Corduff added: “We will only have Shell’s word for it that the pipeline operating pressure will be limited.”

The inspector has ruled that maximum allowable operating pressure onshore will be 150 bar upstream of the landfall valve installation at Glengad, and 100 bar downstream. Government safety consultants Advantica had recommended limiting pressure to 144 bar in 2006.

Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman John Monaghan said conditions set would allow for expansion of the Corrib gas infrastructure, as “residents had always feared”.

An Taisce said the decision was “fundamentally legally flawed”, flew in the face of EU law, and failed to properly take account of the legislative requirements of the EU Habitats, Birds and Environmental Impact Assessment directives.

Its chairman, Charles Stanley-Smith, said the two Green Party ministers with Corrib decisions on their desks should “refuse” them.

Former Bord Gáis engineering manager Leo Corcoran, who acted as consultant to Pobal Chill Chomáin, said Glengad was still the “weak link” in the project.

He did not believe An Bord Pleanála had “any legal basis” for exempting the landfall valve installation at Glengad from planning permission.

Residents at Ballinaboy, who had originally opposed the planning application for the gas terminal, did not object to the route.

However, resident Jacinta Healy said yesterday she was “very saddened” by the decision.“If we had had more support initially when the gas terminal was being opposed – things might be very different today,” Ms Healy said.

Des Branigan, of Marine Research Teo in Dublin, who objected, said An Bord Pleanála should have “listened to its own inspector back in 2003”.

“The Corrib field will only last for five years at its maximum yield, so this is not about Corrib – this is all about developing further fields out there, at a community’s expense,” Mr Branigan said.

Irish Times

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