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Another row over latest gas pipeline onshore proposals

LOCAL opponents of the Corrib onshore gas pipeline have condemned RPS for its disdainful attitude towards them.
A delegation of Kilcommon residents attended the RPS offices in Belmullet on Monday, September 24 to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed re-routing of the Corrib gas pipeline. RPS is the consultant company hired by the Corrib gas project developers, Shell E&P Ltd, to investigate and select alternative route options to the controversial original one from Glengad through Rossport village. A short-list of three re-routing options was published by them on September 18.
Residents living in the communities which stand to be affected by the new route options responded by arranging the protest at the RPS offices to demonstrate their objection to the lack of consultation over the proposed new pipeline route options.
Meanwhile another group of residents from “the landslide area” has issued a registered letter to RPS outlining their objection to not having been consulted on the alternative route options.
They have advised the consultants that they have “a duty of care” to notify the residents in relation to possible further landslides consequent to any works being carried out in the Sruwaddacon Bay. They conclude that they will not consent to anything that they have not been consulted about.
Mr John Monaghan, spokesperson for Shell to Sea said the campaign had undertaken to support the residents in their protest at RPS. He was very disappointed at the way they were treated.
The protestors were initially advised that no RPS staff members were present to speak to the locals. However, the protestors then discovered that personnel were indeed present in the building. Someone did then offer to talk to just three members of the group but the locals were offended by the company’s attitude and declined.
Mr Monaghan remarked: “We are very disappointed with the way RPS treated us. Once we got there they treated us with disdain. That is not how you build community relationships. This is just typical of the treatment the community has received all along. We reject that. We are a community and they do have to deal with us.”
But Mr Monaghan said the event had been positive overall. The protestors feel they successfully made the point that the current process with regard to developing the gas project is inadequate.
Mr Monaghan said: “This process is simply not going to address people’s concerns. Any pipeline serving an inland terminal is not acceptable. They (RPS) have completely ignored that fact and have gone ahead with narrowing down the preferred routes.”
Mr PJ Rudden, Director, RPS said: “The office is open every day if anyone wants to call in to look at the shortlisted corridors. Generally when people want a formal meeting, they ring in advance and we make sure that someone senior sets aside time to meet them. On Monday staff in the office were at a meeting when the letters were returned by the protestors.
“RPS got phone calls from landowners to say they were intimidated into returning our letters. This is very regrettable and counter-productive. We are continuing to consult with landowners and all the stakeholders on the pipeline. Everyone has been welcome at our Open Days and we are continuing to talk to landowners on the three shortlisted route corridors. It will be some months yet before we make a decision on the final recommended route corridor and then on the route.”
On Tuesday, September 18 last RPS announced the short-listed three corridor options - A, B and C.
It stated the short-list followed three months of consultation with landowners, the local community and statutory bodies.
Mr PJ Rudden, Director, RPS said: “We believe that these three corridors offer the best prospect of satisfying the community, environmental and technical criteria. These three emerging preferred route corridors (A, B, and C) will now be further investigated by a number of experts including archaeologists, ecologists, pipeline engineers, marine specialists etc and we also want to hear further views of the community.”
The preferred options are: Corridor A: (Glengad to Terminal) - diverts north from the previously approcied route, route is further away from homes and avoids population clusters over much of its length.
Corridor B: (Glengad too terminal via Aghoos) - corridor is mostly on land but includes two crossing of the Bay, the longest of which is approcimately 1km. There are no homes within th 300 km corridor.
Corridor C: (Glengad to the terminal via Sruwaddacon Bay.) Avoids population and housing clusters.
Over the coming months further technical studies will be undertaken on the three preferred corridors, RPS will also continue to consult with landowners, keep the community up-dated on prgress and provide a monthly ‘focus week’ whereby members of the project team (technical, environmental and consultation) will be available to discuss particular aspects of the project with the community.
Aughoose resident, Tony King, was one of those who participated in the protest at the RPS office. One of the preferred three route options would cross his land approximately 200 yards from his home.
“We feel very bitter about this,” he said. “This (alternative route options) is not going to solve the problem. There is no safe route for this pipeline into the refinery because the refinery was sited in the wrong place from day one.
“We will fight them tooth and nail. They are not going to get into our village. The village has 25 houses and I went to each of them to collect the RPS letters. Every single person is against a raw gas pipeline coming in here. We were never approached by RPS or Shell about this.”
Mr John Egan, External Affairs Manager, Shell E&P Ireland Ltd said: “The onshore pipeline was found to be safe and up to best international standards by Advantica (consultants who carried out the independent safety review). The recommendation by the independent mediator, Mr Peter Cassells was that we should modify the route to address the issue of proximity to certain houses in Rossport. That is what we committed to doing. The work RPS is undertaking at the moment is fulfilling that commit-ment.”
The three route corridor options are on display at the RPS Project Office in Belmullet. The public is encouraged to view the options and make their views known to the consultants.

Posted Date: 
8 October 2007 - 2:02pm