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New gas route ‘irresponsible’, Shell warned

Marian Harrison - Western People

 SHELL’S plans to route the gas pipeline through Sruwaddacon Bay is as “irresponsible” as its previous route selection, according to community group Pobal Chill Chomáin.

The multinational’s own consultants, RPS, rejected the notion of piping the gas through the bay two years ago on environmental grounds as it would adversely affect areas covered by the EU habitats directive but plans are now being drawn up to locate the controversial, high-pressure pipeline in the bay.

The latest proposal will mean that the pipeline will be even closer to Dooncarton Hill, the scene of devastating landslides in 2003.

Chairman of Pobal Chill Chomáin, Vincent McGrath, says the project has “reached an impasse” and cannot proceed. In 2005, Mr McGrath was one of five local residents who were jailed for more than three months for their opposition to the original pipeline.

Meanwhile, a letter sent by Shell to local residents with an offer of talks has only added fuel to the fire with Pobal Chill Chomáin branding the offer as “empty and meaningless” and nothing more than a “box ticking PR exercise” by Shell.

“In all the offers to ‘consult’ Shell has consistently made it clear that the Corrib project could not be altered in any way,” said Mr McGrath. “This is consultation understood only as a conversation where they speak and we, the affected community, listen. This is not dialogue. Instead of dialogue we have been met by force and imposition, which has taken a dreadful toll on our community.”

The community group says it’s now time to suspend the Corrib project and for all sides, developer, state and community, to enter into “genuine and meaningful dialogue”.

Shell has until the end of May to submit plans to An Bord Pleanála in relation to the new gas route.

In November the board ruled that the onshore pipeline route between Glengad and Aghoose was too close to homes and recommended that a route through Sruwaddacon Bay be explored.

Shell recently sought tenders for the design and construction of the onshore pipeline through the bay.

Meanwhile, the community of Erris turned out in force on Good Friday for the annual Corrib protest walk. This year saw two walks take place, one from Pollathomas to Glengad and another in Rossport village.