Shell and its Corrib gas partners and An Taisce are among 12 objectors to the Environmental Protection Agency's preliminary licensing approval for the Corrib gas refinery in north Mayo.
The 12 objections include at least four requests for an oral hearing into the preliminary decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency has at least four months, and perhaps longer, to rule on the hearing applications before making a final decision on the licence.
The IPPC licence is one of a series of procedures handled by various different State agencies in relation to the €900 million project. It deals with emissions and the environmental management of the facility.
The EPA's preliminary approval, issued a month ago, stated it is "satisfied that emissions from the refinery, when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence, will not adversely affect human health or the environment and will meet all relevant national and EU standards".
However, Shell is objecting to the wording in eight of some 85 conditions attached to the proposed licence, and it proposes changes.
An Taisce's objection recommends that the EPA board refuse a final licence for seven reasons, including the failure of the Bellanaboy location to comply with international codes of practice because of its proximity to a major water catchment - Carrowmore lake, which supplies 10,000 people.
An Taisce quotes the Scottish EPA as agreeing that the terminal should not be located within a drinking water catchment. The Scottish EPA has "considerable experience in licensing such facilities", it says.
An Taisce also says that Bellanaboy's inland location exposes connecting production pipelines to "terrorist attack", and it notes that the flaring of gas in Nigeria and other regions by Shell is "contributing significantly to global warming".
Objections have been lodged by the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association, local parish priest Fr Michael Nallen, and a number of residents in the Erris area - with four coming from the Shell to Sea network. Dr Mark Garavan, Shell to Sea spokesman and Independent candidate in the forthcoming Seanad elections, contrasted comments made yesterday by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell in relation to the Poolbeg incinerator in Dublin with his stance on the Corrib gas field.
"Minister McDowell has hailed the possible decision not to proceed with the proposed Poolbeg incinerator as a 'victory for local democracy'," said Dr Garavan.
"If this is so, why do the Minister and the Government not acknowledge the same right of local democracy to the threatened communities of Bellanaboy and Rossport in north Mayo?"
© 2007 The Irish Times