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Seven separate parties object to gas terminal


By Joan Tobin
SEVEN separate parties have appealed against the decision by Mayo County Council to grant planning permission for the proposed gas terminal in Erris, it was revealed at an oral hearing by An Bord Pleanala yesterday (Tuesday).
The oral hearing is being held into the granting of permission by Mayo County Council for the construction of the gas terminal in Bellanaboy, North Mayo. Permission for the facility was granted to Enterprise Energy Ireland (E.E.I.) by Mayo County Council last August subject to 66 planning conditions, some of which include provision for direct investment in the area.
The planning permission was appealed by the following parties: An Taisce, Duchas, Bellanaboy Concerned Citizens, Roderick O’Connor and others, Sean Mac Domhnaill and friends, the Erris Fishermen’s Association and Friends of the Irish Environment, all of whom were given leave to address the hearing.
Submissions for observation were also lodged by ten parties who included M.E.P. Patricia McKenna, the Belmullet Sea-Angling Club and the Health and Safety Authority.
Representatives of E.E.I. spoke in glowing terms of the proposed facility at the start of the hearing on Monday last, claiming that the visual impact of the facility would be practically imperceptible when completed.
Mr. Brian O’Cathain, Managing Director of EEI, said the development of the terminal would assist in the economic and social regeneration of Mayo and the North West region, which had been shown in a recent Western Development Commission survey to be lagging several years behind the rest of the country, and contribute to ‘sustainable development in the area’. More than e380 million is to be invested in the overall Corrib project.
The Corrib Gas Field is a 230 million year old gas reservoir located 70km off North Mayo. The reservoir is 3,000 meters under the seabed and has a life supply expectancy of up to 20 years.
Under the proposed plan, the gas is to be drilled directly from the sea-bed, in waters described as harsh and more hostile than those found in the Gulf of Mexico. From there it will flow through a pipeline into Broadhaven Bay and on to the proposed reception terminal at Bellanaboy, North Mayo, where it will be treated for onward distribution to Craughwell (subject to the granting of planning permission to Bord Gais Eireann for a pipeline to Craughwell which is awaited from an oral hearing held before last Christmas) and into the Bord Gais national grid.
Chairman of the oral hearing, Mr. Kevin Moore, Senior Planning Inspector with An Bord Pleanala, emphasised that the hearing is essentially a fact-finding mission and not an assessment of the facility. If delegates were unhappy with his method of procedure, (Mr. Peter Sweetman on behalf of concerned residents in Belmullet had objected to the exclusion of environmental evidence), they could seek remedy outside, he said.
A total of 13 issues have to be investigated and while two weeks has been alloted for the hearing, Mr. Moore said he was hopeful the matter could be concluded within a week.

Posted Date: 
1 March 2005 - 4:08pm