Thursday 1 July 2010

Shell lodges new plan for gas pipeline

FIVE YEARS after the jailing of the Rossport Five, Shell has lodged a new planning application showing its Corrib gas pipeline route will not cross any land in the north Mayo village.

Full details of the third proposed routing for the last link in the project are due to be published on the internet today.

The details will also be available for inspection at the offices of Shell and An Bord Pleanála in Dublin, and Mayo County Council offices in Castlebar and Belmullet.

An Bord Pleanála has set a four-week public consultation period for the proposed routing under Sruwaddacon estuary and through forestry to the Ballinaboy gas terminal, with a deadline for submissions of July 28th.

It is expected a Bord Pleanála oral hearing held last year under the Strategic Infrastructure Act may reopen in early autumn to consider the revised application.

The new plan was drawn up by Shell after An Bord Pleanála found up to half of its second proposed routing for the onshore pipe was “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport, Glengad and Aughoose.

Shell says the new routing is 234 metres away from the nearest occupied house – more than three times the original distance.

Sruwaddacon estuary, a candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC), divides Rossport to the north from Glengad, Pollathomas and Aughoose to the south.

The proposed pipeline will still run over lands of at least five landowners in the Glengad area – one being Shell – and several others in Lenamore, near Ballinaboy. It will not cross any lands in Rossport. A new compulsory acquisition order for access to lands has been submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

Five men – three Rossport landowners – were jailed for 94 days on June 29th, 2005 for refusing to obey a court order in their opposition to the project. All still oppose the project’s methodology on health and safety grounds.

The third route will be 8.3km long – almost a kilometre shorter than the last proposal. Just over half of it will run through a tunnel dug under Sruwaddacon estuary.

Geotechnical work associated with the design of the pipe and tunnel is due to begin shortly in the estuary. Testing will involve drilling up to 80 boreholes during a set period when the Department of the Environment believes it will have minimal impact on wild salmon stocks and on over-wintering birds.

Shell says the new route is no longer within the Glenamoy bog complex priority habitat. It says there will be an increased volume of construction activity at Aughoose, rather than at Glengad.

A section of the pipeline already laid up to the high water mark at Glengad, which had been deemed exempted development, has been included in the new application.

Irish Times

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