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Open Letter to the Norwegian National Assembly through the President of the Assembly, Mr Torbjorn Jagland

Below is the translation of a text of a letter/request sent from participants at a Conference held in January in Norway. The conference was organised by a community just North of Bergen. Philip McGrath of the Rossport Five and Dr. Mark Garavan (NUI Seanad candidate) were invited to attend and spoke on the issues being faced by the community of North Mayo in regards to the Corrib gas project. Following their talk, the participants agreed to send the following letter. The conference was attended by local residents, academics, journalists and local political leaders. It showed that the people of Norway themselves would be outraged by events in Ireland regarding Corrib if they had the full information.
The arranging committee of a seminar at Dyrkolbotn Fjellstove 12-13 January 2007 – with great approval from the participants – will by this letter appeal to public opinion and strongly show their dislike of the way Statoil has behaved when developing the Corrib Gas Project of Bellanaboy and Rossport in the Mayo County of Ireland. Statoil is a 36.5% participant in a consortium including Shell (45% and Marathon (18.5%). Our Irish guests presented us with the story of the Corrib Gas project. The local people of the Bellanaboy and Rossport area have strongly objected to the proposed gas project, both the landing of the gas, the route of the pipeline in close proximity to people and dwellings and the site of the planned processing plant in protected areas. They want the area to remain unspoilt and preserve it for traditional income sources related to farming and fishing. Protests and demonstrations have been organized to show the resistance of the local residents against the plans and the planning procedures of the multinational companies. Instead of entering into dialogue with the locals, Statoil together with Shell put in the police. When in June 2005 five landowners (known as the Rossport Five) refused to allow personnel of the companies access to their land they were put in prison indefinitely! Shell obtained a High Court injunction against them, and they were locked up in prison for more than three months. Work on the project site is being prepared and carried out under protection of police. This state of things has now lasted for seven years! The inhabitants feel that their small and fragile communities are being traumatized and falling apart. We think this is an example of ruthless activities on the part of a Norwegian state company neglecting the views of the locals of Bellanaboy and Rossport. The companies should enter into dialogue with the local community to try to find solutions that the residents will accept. Great attention should be paid to the environmental aspects, to the development of the material and human resources of this area, and to retaining the assets for the welfare of this community. It is perhaps even more unacceptable that Statoil participates in exploiting the fact that in Ireland there is hardly any State participation in the commercial development of important natural resources, and in the case of the Rossport Five Statoil is responsible along with Shell for having acted in defiance of common democratic, moral and legal standards. The oil companies were granted the right to occupy land even if the owners objected, by Compulsory Acquisition Orders. On this background the President of the National Assembly is requested to make the initiative for an open hearing where Statoil has to explain its involvement in the Corrib Gas Project. The objective must be to listen to the views and arguments of the local residents and to find alternative solutions to the controversial gas project, e.g. an offshore processing plant.’Drykolbotn 13 January 2007.Signhild Dyrkolbotn, on behalf of the arranging committee.Eli Bjorklid, contact person.

Posted Date: 
13 April 2007 - 7:47pm