"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.”
SHELL EP Ireland has said it is conducting authorised “geotechnical” work on private land in north Mayo in advance of a Bord Pleanála decision on its application for a new onshore pipeline route.
Erris community group Pobal Chill Chomáin has sought clarification from the planning board on the status of the work, which began last week on the proposed pipeline route. Shell-to-Sea spokeswoman Maura Harrington said the work “illustrates the unbridled arrogance of Shell”.
The appeals board has yet to give a ruling on the application for a modified pipeline route under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.
It held a 19-day oral hearing on the application early in the summer, and in August said it had deferred a decision until “on or before October 23rd”.
In a statement yesterday, Shell EP Ireland said that it could “confirm that it is carrying out site investigation works on private lands in Aughoose”.
“This work will provide geo-technical information for the detailed design of the onshore pipeline,” the company said. A spokesman told The Irish Times that the work was authorised.
Pobal Chill Chomáin chairman Vincent McGrath has asked the planning board to confirm if the works are authorised. He said it is understood the proposed works will include borehole drilling.
The modified onshore pipeline route runs from a landfall at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain, which was the location of a series of landslides in 2003. It continues through a mixture of farmland, commonage and protected habitats. The offshore pipeline has already been laid this summer, and work was carried out on the Glengad landfall.
A spokesman for the board said the authorisation of works at Aughoose/Lenamore by Shell was a matter for Mayo County Council.
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times