Tuesday 10 February 2009

Shell lodging revised plans for Corrib gas pipeline

SHELL EP Ireland is lodging revised applications this week for State approval of its Corrib gas onshore pipeline in north Mayo.

The applications replace those submitted last year and subsequently withdrawn from An Bord Pleanála, with “minor realignments” to a modified route.

Separate consents are also being sought from Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan under the Gas Acts.

The original pipeline route, which led to protests and the controversial jailing of the Rossport Five over three years ago, was not submitted for planning approval as there was no State requirement.

Consents were signed for compulsory acquisition of private land for the route by former minister for the marine Frank Fahey before the 2002 general election.

An Bord Pleanála confirmed late last week that the revised submissions for the modified route could be considered under fast-tracking strategic infrastructure legislation.

The appeals board is also handling the developer’s application for compulsory acquisition of private land for the high-pressure pipeline route.

Shell lodged a foreshore licence application last week with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in relation to the pipeline landfall and crossings.

RPS, consultants for Shell, say that the “minor realignments” to the “modified” route avoid more sensitive habitats, including bog pools in the Rossport commonage.

The consultants say that the route is “largely unchanged and remains a minimum of 140 metres from occupied dwellings”. The original route came within 70 metres of housing.

An Bord Pleanála had been seeking additional information from the developers on the modified route last year, and RPS says that this information is being submitted with this revised application. The board requested more details on the development’s impact on the stability of ground in the area; its environmental impact; and the impact of any extension of the life of wellfields or “extensification” of wellfields upstream.

The board also sought reports on a post-landslide site at Derrybrien wind farm in Co Galway, as referred to in the company’s environmental impact statement.

The proposed 9km route for the high-pressure pipeline runs from a landfall at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain, where there was a series of landslides in September 2003.

RPS has said that there is “no overall delay” to the project as a result of the time spent in lodging, withdrawing and relodging the planning application.

Shell EP Ireland said last night that a further period of public consultation will follow and details of the applications would be made publicly available through the RPS and Shell offices.

“All parties will have an opportunity to make submissions through the statutory consultation period,” it said.

Work on the gas refinery at Bellanaboy is expected to be completed this year, while the company also plans to lay its offshore pipeline.

Work on this was deferred after protests and an uncertain legal situation offshore.

Meanwhile, the Government’s new forum on the Corrib gas project is still hoping to engage with community groups in north Mayo who are not happy with its terms of reference and who have not so far participated in the hearings.

Irish Times


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