"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
The ESB has plans to develop three wave energy sites off the Irish coast, including one at Broad have n Bay, in Co Mayo, where the Shell gas pipeline has caused controversy.
The electricity firm has applied for foreshore licences to investigate the potential for wave energy in Broadhaven Bay and Blacksod Bay in Co Mayo and Ballinskelligs Bay in Co Kerry.
A spokeswoman for ESB said that the applications were the first step that the energy firm had to take to explore the potential of the sites for wave energy.
If it is granted the licences, ESB will ‘‘undertake wave measurements and follow-on sea-bed surveys’’ from later this year, she said.
That will involve deploying wave measurement buoys for at least a year, followed by surveys of sea-bed conditions in each location.
The applications have been made through ESB International (ESBI), which handles some of the firm’s research at home, as well as projects abroad.
The spokeswoman said the projects were part of an ESBI strategy to develop 150 megawatts of ocean energy by 2020.
She said that the firm had already held discussions about the projects with the Department of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture, which had responsibility for foreshore licensing until this month.
It has also had talks with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and with Sustainable Energy Ireland.