SHELL EP Ireland says it believes its new plan for the Corrib gas onshore pipeline meets or exceeds all “relevant” international and national codes and standards.
The nearest occupied house will now be 234m (767ft) away from the pipeline – more than three times the original distance, the developers state.
The developer’s proposal to construct a tunnel for the pipeline under Sruwaddaccon bay “will have the least environmental impact” on the estuary, which is a special area of conservation, Shell EP Ireland managing director Terry Nolan has said.
A revised environmental impact statement was submitted by Shell to An Bord Pleanála, even as Belmullet fire brigade was fighting the third in a series of forest fires over the last three days close to the Corrib Ballinaboy terminal.
Last November, An Bord Pleanála vindicated Rossport residents’ concerns when it found that up to half of the company’s second pipeline route was “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport and between Aughoose and Glengad on the northern and southern shores of Sruwaddacon.
The appeals board advised that British health and safety risk thresholds, and a standard for allowing hazard distances in the event of a pipeline failure, should be applied to the route and design.
The appeals board suggested that the developers explore another route, up the Sruwaddacon estuary, and gave three months (which was subsequently extended) for further information to be submitted on the route, design and safety of the high pressure pipe.
Shell said yesterday that it had responded positively to An Bord Pleanála’s request to re-route the onshore pipeline through Sruwaddacon Bay. The original pipeline route – opposition to which led to the jailing of the Rossport five for 95 days five years ago – was exempted from planning, and given consents by former marine minister Frank Fahey. A modified route to avoid housing in Rossport was then submitted for planning approval under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.
Mr Nolan said “the proposed Corrib onshore pipeline meets or exceeds all relevant international and Irish pipeline codes and standards. It also meets the safety criteria established by An Bord Pleanála,” he said.