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Pipe dreams - Letter to the Guardian newspaper,,2032738,00.html
Letters extra
Letters this week cover the big supermarkets and their role in regeneration, older Asian people's perspectives on social cohesion, Westminster council leader Simon Milton, County Mayo's gas pipeline, and the treatment of Gul Davis Wednesday March 14,
Pipe dreams I was interested to read the excellent article by Owen Bowcott (Pipe dreams and distrust) about the proposed Irish gas project. As an environmentalist and resident of Ireland since 1993, I have felt utterly disgusted at the way both Shell and the Irish government have behaved regarding the proposal to bring in gas from the Atlantic via Rossport, County Mayo. I have visited several times and seen where and what is proposed. This is a scenic part of the west of Ireland coast, much of it designated as special areas of conservation. [Residents] have suddenly been besieged by the forces of the multinationals backed by the government, without proper consultation and with scant regard for environment, culture or way of life. Without consulting the community, engineers went straight to households telling them where test pits were to be dug on their land. When meetings were held, the message was of money for nothing and lots of jobs - all for having a harmless gas pipeline running past their houses to a refinery hidden in the forestry plantation.
Some of the community were aggravated about the invasion of their land and were suspicious of this wondrous bounty. They asked questions and got few satisfactory answers. They learned that this would be a high-pressure raw-gas production pipeline just 70 metres from their houses and even closer to the public road. They also heard about the explosion of a similar high-pressure gas pipeline at Carlsbad, New Mexico, in August 2000, where a family of 12 camping over 200 metres away were wiped out. Why would this pipeline be so much safer than the Carlsbad one? The Shell to Sea campaign was formed to demand that the refinery be built at sea as in many other parts of the world, minimising dangers and damage but still allowing the gas to be brought in.
As Bowcott says, the dispute has been exacerbated by the actions of politicians and has spiralled beyond the questions of safety and environment. Peaceful protests have turned into violent clashes with police who are under orders to protect the passage of Shell construction vehicles. What has now become clear is that the way this matter is resolved will have far-reaching consequences for the way our communities and environment are treated when big business tries to get the upper hand. Bob Wilson, County Clare, Ireland

Posted Date: 
24 March 2007 - 11:52am