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PRESS RELEASE: Statemet of Rossport 5 to public consultation hearing

We are making this submission to the Public Consultation Hearing for two reasons. First, we want to acknowledge the principle of consultation and public engagement and demonstrate again our willingness to engage constructively in resolving the Corrib Gas crisis. Second, we want to explain in a direct and we hope courteous manner why it is impossible for us to participate in this Hearing.
We regard it as appropriate practice that public consultation occurs before decisions are made. Yet, in the case of the Corrib upstream pipeline, consents and approvals have already been granted. The Corrib Gas Plan of Development has been signed off in April 2002, committing the State to support the development concept proposed by Shell. Compulsory Acquisition Orders on our lands have already been granted without an oral hearing. The pipeline has been exempted from planning permission.
Public consultation was required prior to these decisions not after them. It is therefore unclear to us what purpose today’s Hearing has other than to attempt to retrospectively suggest that consultation has occurred and to provide a post hoc justification for decisions already made.
We believe that by establishing a consultation Hearing the Minister has conceded the principle that consultation should occur and has in effect acknowledged that it has not occurred in this case.
In addition, this Hearing is taking place within the context of the Advantica Safety Review. We have already made clear that the terms of that Review are drawn too narrowly. The Review is predicated upon the development concept proposed by Shell and therefore accepts the production pipeline as a given. It then poses technical safety questions of that pipeline.
Our concerns run far deeper than that. We believe that the entire Corrib Gas project needs to be subjected to a thorough review on health and safety grounds so that the best development concept is used. We have argued and will argue that this is best achieved through a shallow-water offshore process. The Advantica review will not measure the safety of the proposed pipeline against alternative development concepts. Comparative safety studies will therefore not be conducted. In short, the Advantica Review is addressing questions that we have not posed.
What is crucially important to understand is that our opposition to the proposed pipeline is grounded firmly on our analysis of the consequences of an accident given the extraordinary proximity of the pipeline to our homes. We say that this would be catastrophic for ourselves and our community.
There are a number of additional particular constraints on our participation in this Hearing.
First, Shell is continuing to pursue a permanent injunction against us. In that context, there will be a full High Court hearing on many of the issues that we might have wished to raise in this Hearing. It is not reasonable to expect us to deal with matters that will be the subject of future Court hearings.
Second, we will also in due course be entering into a process of mediation with Shell and their government partners. Once again, many of the issues that might have been addressed in a full and proper consultation hearing will be examined there. We therefore feel it inappropriate to, in effect, further duplicate these processes.
Finally, we want to record that we were released following 94 days imprisonment less than two weeks ago and have been slowly recovering from our ordeal with our family and friends. This Hearing is taking place at a time that is, for obvious reasons, not opportune for us.

Posted Date: 
6 October 2005 - 5:42pm