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Press Release: An Bord Pleanála integrity under scrutiny - Ryan's Dept attempts to influence board

An Bord Pleanála today granted Shell E&P Ireland a 4-month extension to the previous deadline for submission of further information on Shell's application for an onshore pipeline in Erris, Co. Mayo. The deadline had previously been February 5, and has now been extended to May 31. This marks a continuation of efforts by the board to facilitate Shell and their Corrib gas project against the wishes of the local community, and despite huge concerns over issues of safety and the giveaway of Irish natural resources.

Campaigners have reacted angrily to these developments, which are seen as further efforts to enable Shell's construction of the onshore pipeline.

In other news, it has emerged that officials from Minister Éamon Ryan's department have written to An Bord Pleanála stating that they have concluded that 'the Corrib gas pipeline meet[s] all relevant safety standards and codes'[1].  This marks a clear attempt to intimate that An Bord Pleanála are failing by not following the Technical Advisory Group's (TAG) opinion, and allowing permission for Shell's onshore pipeline, and to influence the board to ignore the potentially massive repercussions of an accident during their deliberations.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway stated: “An Bord Pleanála have already ruled that Shell's pipeline was not safe as proposed[2]. This should have lead to an outright refusal of permission at the time, rather than a request from the board for further information.”

He continued: “There are fundamental flaws with this application. Now that Shell have failed to meet their deadline, having already failed to satisfy the board's safety concerns, it is past time for this application to be fully and unambiguously refused – anything else would cast significant doubt on the board's integrity.”

Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington said: “The letter from Bob Hanna of the TAG clearly shows that Shell is putting the squeeze on Ryan's department to get this project through, by hook or by crook - this is no way for a government department to behave in relation to a supposedly transparent and independent planning process".

"While massive cuts are being felt all over the country, the giveaway of Ireland's natural resources is taking place disguised as national strategic development – the resources of this country should be for the people of this country.”

 

ENDS

 

For verification or further comment, please contact:

Terence Conway

Maura Harrington

 

Notes for Editors

[1] The letter indicated the belief of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that the UK safety standards referred to by the board in their letter of November 2 were not appropriate, as the TAG believes its own standards to be the relevant ones in this matter. The TAG is part of the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources, which is headed Minister Eamon Ryan.

[2] ‘The Corrib Gas ruling’ http://www.shelltosea.com/node/100

[3] 'Part of Corrib pipeline 'unsafe' http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/1103/breaking40.html

[4] Campaigners call on An Bord Pleanála to reject unsafe Shell pipeline: http://www.shelltosea.com/node/1900

[5] It has emerged that State expenditure on Garda overtime, to facilitate the Corrib gas project against the wishes of the local community, has reached almost E14million.  Dáil question on cost of Garda Operations

http://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2010-01-20.1269.0&s=section:wrans%20speaker:5#g1270.0.q