Thursday, 15 February 2007

Is Corrib pipeline to be fast-tracked?

Junoe McEnroe in the Irish Examiner writes - THE controversial Shell gas pipeline in Mayo may be ‘fast-tracked’ under radical new planning laws according to anti-pipeline campaigners.
The leading partners in the Corrib gas project revealed plans to apply to an Bord Pleanala under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.
Shell wrote to planning chiefs on February 8, seeking a meeting. The alternative route for the 9km onshore pipe must also be considered by the Minister for Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey. However despite the two-fold system, objectors to the €1 billion gas project said yesterday the new legislation might in fact easily facilitate approval for the contentious pipeline.
Dr Mark Garavan with campaigners Shell to Sea said: “The legislation seems predisposed to these types of projects. It clearly is a concern, the whole purpose of the Act is a fast-track situation.”
Protestors also question why the project is continuously being split into different planning sections and under several state bodies.
“People are not getting the full picture if they are only looking at bits of it,” he said. But he added that Shell protestors “in principle” welcomed the fact the pipeline needed planning permission.
The previous route has been dropped by Shell.
Shell officially said its meeting with an Bord Pleanala would focus on the “scope of the application”.
It denied that the pipeline would be fast-tracked.
No alternative pipeline route is decided yet. However, the company admitted its application under the strategic infrastructure laws, which in the main came into effect on January 31, would be a “test case”.

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