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Resumption of peat haulage imminent

The Western People
Full-scale works to resume on Corrib project 3/27/2007 - 5:08:06 PM THE RESUMPTION of full-scale works on the Corrib gas terminal at Bellanaboy increases the potential of an escalation in protest, according to Terry Nolan, Deputy Managing Director of Shell E&P Ireland.
At a press conference in Castle-bar last Thursday, Mr Nolan announced that the resumption of peat haulage - from the Bellanaboy refinery site to the Srahmore peat deposition site - is set to resume in early April.
The haulage - expected to take about five months - will be “an opportunity for protesters,” he said.
100,000 cubic metres were moved in 2005, and 350,000 remain. Until the peat is removed, the project cannot move into the full-scale construction phase.
The resumption of full-scale construction on the refinery will be “vigourously opposed,” according to John Monaghan, spokesman for the Shell to Sea campaign.
Such opposition will come in the face of what objectors regard as a “contradiction” in Shell’s approach - their “insistence on proceeding with construction of the refinery prior to an agreement regarding a production pipeline and prior to EPA approval”.
Shell say the terminal will take approximately two years to construct and the pipeline “will just take a single season to install”.
“It therefore makes sense,” they say, “to begin work on the terminal while the process around modifying the pipeline route is under-way.”
The process of selecting a new route for the proposed pipeline is continuing, said Mr Nolan, and is currently in its initial stages. But while maintaining that “landown-er agreement” is key in the process, he has not ruled out the future use of Compulsary Purchase Orders (CAOs).
”We’re looking at a fairly wide area,” he said, citing Sruwaddacon Bay and areas to the north and south of Rossport. “Within that there are a number of corridors,” he said.
Asked if the proposed pipeline would be going through objectors’ land, Mr Nolan said it is “unlikely” and went on to claim that the use of CAOs “would depend on the situation at the time” and that Shell would “be looking for a route that has the agreement of the landowners”.
Responding to Mr Nolan’s comments, Dr Mark Garavan, Seanad candidate for the general election, said: “What Shell are looking for is provisional, or partial, consent - consent up to a point.”
According to Dr Garavan, Mr Nolan’s refusal to rule out compulsary purchase shows that Shell have “a minimal understanding of consent... especially if they reserve the right of CAOs”.
“If they were really concerned about community consent, they would rethink the project,” he said.
Dr Garavan has also lodged a petition with the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee, calling on them to immediately investigate possible breaches of European Union Law in relation to the Corrib gas project. He has claimed there were breaches of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directives, the Seveso 2 Directive, the Water Quality Directive, various Pubic Consultation Directives and the Habitats Directive.
In his submission, the Seanad candidate has accused the developers of the terminal of “project-splitting” - dividing aspects of the project and making separate applications for each of them.
“No process exists, which allows for meaningful public participation, into the project as an integral totality,” he claimed in his written petition.
He went on to say that the Health and Safety Authority adopted very narrow criteria in determining the compliance of the refinery, that the location of the refinery within three kilometres of Carrowmore lake is in breach of the code of practice governing the development of gas refineries, and that an advisory opinion from the EU Commission has already found the project to be in breach of the Habitats Directive because no adequate studies were undertaken of Broad-haven Bay, a known breeding ground for cetaceans.
In response to Dr Garavan’s claims, Shell has said it is confident the project is in compliance with all relevant Irish legislation, which in turn complies with EU directives.
Although acknowledging it can be a slow process, Dr Garavan said he hopes the European Parliament Petitions Committee will “quickly initiate a comprehensive enquiry into these matters” and that it is “essential that the serious health and safety concerns regarding the Corrib gas project be the subject of objective, independent investigation”.

Posted Date: 
28 March 2007 - 3:34pm