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Shell & RPS drilling stopped again

mayo | environment | news report Thursday October 25, 2007 19:18 by Max - S2S

For the 2nd day in a row, the drilling of test boreholes on Shells' proposed pipeline route was halted.
Stop Shell, take it easy, admire the view
Yesterday at around 1pm, Shell to sea protestors stopped Shell’s illegal work for the second day running. Eight RPS workers were found drilling at Leanamor on the route where Shell had previously illicitly laid parts of their pipeline. The workers were performing a similar drilling operation as in Glengad the previous day, only this time it was adjacent to the boardwalk, which has still not been removed despite Noel Dempsey ordering them to take it up when Shell were found to have breached his consent. Two days ago the RPS crew stopped working on a special area of conservation (SAC) after a member of Rossport Solidarity Camp clambered up on top of a drilling machine. Wednesday saw the same tactic deployed by a local farmer this time only moments before the Gardai turned up. The rest of the group entered inside the fence the surrounded the drilling machine which was promptly turned off by the RPS employees. The RPS employee in charge of the drilling operation was then asked to produce the relevant permission for the works in question, also as there is questions over who owns the land she was also asked to produce proof that they had permission to be on the land. It is believed that this is public land that is being maintained by Coillte. Seeing as Coillte’s stated policy is to “consult widely with stakeholders in formulating forest management policies and objectives to ensure there is community support for the company’s activities”, it was felt that it was necessary to find out what is being done on this public land. Even though the RPS employee said that this information would be produced it never was. About an hour and a half after entering the site, the Garda in charge negotiated that the farmer would climb down in exchange for the RPS crew halting their works and removing their equipment from the area. The man climbed down and the locals followed the crew and the drilling machine through the bog and up to the end of the boardwalk. It was at this point that the situation changed as the crew left the machine on the inside of the compound. Locals felt that this was not the arrangement that the officer in charge had agreed to. The Gardai and Shell security guards felt otherwise which lead to a standoff. One local commented that they had spent 94 days in prison and could wait for the same length of time if need be. The Gardai were unsure of their legal right to evict the locals for trespassing from the public land.By the time darkness fell (one shift change later for Gardai and Shell security) the locals were still inside. Supporters on the outside of the fence joined them. Soup and sandwiches were passed over the fence to the locals inside the compound but the security guards and Gardai alike rejected offers of food. A playful atmosphere emerged with protesters twice locking themselves inside the security guards portacabin in the space of half an hour and Gardai sitting in cars outside the compound chatting. As we left sleeping bags and tents had been passed over the fence– presumably the intention was that some people would stay in the woods for the evening. Thursday morning saw a group of seven protesters emerge from the woods as the sun came up. The RPS crew had not shown up for work by 9.30 so the group left the area. Around lunchtime there was still a group of security guards standing by the drilling machine and a garda van outside however no attempt was made to restart the drilling work. Within the last hour however, work has started in erecting extra fencing outside this site. It seems that RPS are following the lead of Shell and once again attempting to fence themselves off from the locals rather than engage with the genuine concerns that the community have regarding the pipeline route.In a follow-up to Tuesday’s halting of drilling work on Glengad SAC, RPS (the company employed by Shell to find the new pipeline route) have admitted that they didn’t have permission to drill where they were drilling, however they claimed to Mid-west radio that once they contact National Parks & Wildlife (NPWS) they will be allowed to drill. However it is still the belief locally, that the Minister for Environment must give permission in-order to carry out work on an SAC.
Related Link:
Stopping the drill
It's hard work stopping a big multinational
Removing the drill

More photos
by Max - S2S Thu Oct 25, 2007 21:00
A job well done
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Posted Date: 
26 October 2007 - 2:58pm