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Talks on Corrib onshore pipe to begin

Lorna Siggins, The Irish Times


SHELL EP Ireland and consultants RPS are to begin a new round of community consultations after Easter on “potential route options” for the Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

The developers plan to hold “face-to-face and small group meetings” within the community, rather than the open forum format adopted two years ago.

In a related development, the firm’s protracted delay in applying for a review of its emissions licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to be raised by the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association in a meeting with the developers this week.

In letters to north Mayo residents last week, the company said it still “stands over the safety of the pipeline design as proposed” onshore from Glengad to the Ballinaboy terminal.

However, it says it is committed to “positively addressing the matters raised by Bord Pleanála”. Last November, An Bord Pleanála found that up to half of a proposed modified onshore pipeline route was “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport and between Glengad and Aughoose.

The developers have already applied for a foreshore licence to drill up to 80 boreholes in Sruwaddacon estuary – an alternative suggested by An Bord Pleanála, although it is a Special Area of Conservation. The licence application, lodged with the Department of the Environment, has attracted 190 submissions. Shell has also sought tenders for construction of a pipeline through the estuary.

The developers have told residents they are “studying and assessing the possible route options” within the estuary, as well as “possible construction methodologies”, and wish “to seek the views of the community on these matters”.

The Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association (EIFA) is currently in negotiations with the company in relation to the 2010 and 2011 “marine works” season, but to date the company has not submitted an application to the EPA to review its emissions licence – as promised as part of a legal agreement 20 months ago.

In August 2009, EIFA members voted for compensation for lost fishing time from Shell in return for a commitment that the Corrib gas partners would not discharge “treated produced water” from unrefined gas. Several promised dates for an EPA application to effect this have not been met, the association says.

The negotiations are also stalled over the nomination by the EIFA of former Bord Gáis engineer Leo Corcoran to examine plans for disposal of waste water. Shell has opposed Mr Corcoran’s nomination, but the fishermen’s association has said if the company had “nothing to hide”, it should have no problem with Mr Corcoran.

Pat O’Donnell, the EIFA member who first raised concerns about the project on the marine environment, is currently serving a seven month jail sentence for threatening behaviour towards a garda and wilful obstruction of a peace officer in September 2008.