Friday 6 November 2009

Board may reopen Corrib gas hearing

AN BORD Pleanála has said it will reopen the oral hearing into the Corrib gas onshore pipeline if Shell EP Ireland responds within three months to its requests issued this week.

Shell EP Ireland told The Irish Times yesterday it was “confident” it could meet the February 5th deadline set by the appeals board, following this week’s deferral of a final decision on the strategic infrastructure application.

The board told the developers earlier this week that up to half of the proposed new onshore pipeline route was “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport and between Glengad and Aughoose.

In a four-page letter, the appeals board said the application did “not present a complete, transparent and adequate demonstration” that the high pressure pipeline “does not pose an unacceptable risk to the public”.

The board noted that part of the pipeline route onshore was omitted from the application. A section close to the Glengad landfall had been ruled as exempted development by the Department of Environment.

The appeals board suggested a review of a route up the Sruwaddacon estuary – a route rejected on environmental and technical grounds by Shell’s consultants, RPS. It could “provisionally” approve the proposed onshore pipeline development, “should alterations be made”. The board has given such an assurance once before, in relation to the recent east-west gas interconnector.

Former Bord Gáis engineering manager Leo Corcoran, who was an appellant at the oral hearing last May-June in Belmullet, said yesterday it would be virtually impossible for the Corrib gas partners to meet all the demands set by An Bord Pleanála, particularly in relation to the Glengad landfall.

“This landfall is highly inappropriate and would not have been selected in the first place if the developer had followed the code of practice. Retrofitting a failed design to the planning application won’t be acceptable to the community at Glengad either.”

A Shell EP Ireland spokesman said it could not comment on “speculation”.

The Department of Transport has also confirmed that a fishing vessel, the John Michelle, owned by Pat O’Donnell, was inspected by its marine survey office as an “overriding priority” on July 1st last. A “guard vessel” for the Corrib project was also inspected under these terms in August.

Irish Times

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