Wednesday 20 May 2009

Corrib gas pipeline hearing opens

PLANNING chiefs opened a public hearing into the controversial Corrib gas pipeline route as a prominent protestor was jailed for the second time in less than two months.

Energy giant Shell and local environmentalists disagree on plans to extract massive stores of gas off the Mayo coast.

An Bord Pleanála opened its hearings into a revised onshore pipeline route yesterday amid claims by its designers that it was safer for local residents.

The hearings into the route are expected to last for possibly four weeks. Shell wants to lay 9.2km of onshore pipeline which will help will pump the raw gas ashore.

Shell’s engineers say the new onshore route is twice the distance from houses as the original design – 140 metres as opposed to the original 70. Shell also maintains the pipeline pressure is half what was originally put forth by the energy consortium for the last route.

The original pipeline route was exempt from planning nine years ago.

Shell and objectors drew up a schedule for hearings yesterday. The board’s inspector could complete a report on the hearings up to eight weeks after they are finished. It will then be up to board members to approve or reject Shell’s revised route.

Meanwhile, long-time Corrib protester and retired school principal Maura Harrington has been jailed for a second time in just two months. The 55-year-old has been jailed for 14 days for refusing to pay a €3,000 fine after being charged earlier this year with assaulting a garda.

Irish Examiner

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