Wednesday 4 November 2009

North Mayo residents say ruling vindicates their stance

NORTH Mayo residents have said that An Bord Pleanála’s ruling on the Corrib gas onshore pipeline is a “vindication” of their stance on health and safety grounds.

Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman John Monaghan and resident Mary Corduff also said that Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and his department had “serious questions to answer” in relation to endorsement of the safety of the proposed modified pipeline route at the oral hearing .

A spokeswoman for Mr Ryan said his first priority “has and always will be the safety of the affected community”.

Ms Corduff said this was the outcome of “project splitting”. Her community had “suffered intimidation over years” for their opposition, she said.

“In 2003, Bord Pleanála inspector Kevin Moore described the Bellanaboy site for the refinery as ‘the wrong site’ from a strategic planning perspective,” she said. “Mr Moore should have been listened to. Shell should go back to the drawing board now.”

Former Bord Gáis engineering manager Leo Corcoran, who was one of the appellants at the recent oral hearing, said the location of the landfall valve installation at Glengad was “ socially unsustainable” and did not comply with internationally acceptable codes of practice.

“The current application is an attempt to retrofit a failed design to meet the required codes of practice,” Mr Corcoran said.

Shell to Sea spokeswoman Maura Harrington said: “What An Bord Pleanála have really shown today is that the Corrib gas pipeline is not safe to be routed through our community, or indeed any residential area.

“Shell have consistently shown their inability and unwillingness to make this project safe – what it needs is a total overhaul, with real consideration given to the genuine problems with the project raised by campaigners.”

Ms Harrington took issue with the board’s provisional approval if alterations, including a new route, were applied for, saying “Ireland’s real strategic interest would be in regaining control of our natural resources”.

Justice and peace group Action from Ireland (Afri) welcomed the acknowledgment of “legitimate safety concerns of local people”.

“Shell built a refinery in the wrong place and laid an offshore pipeline and they can’t connect one to the other – this was always a crazy approach to planning,” Afri spokesman Andy Storey said.

“For years, local people objecting to this project have been called ignorant and have been the subject of harassment and intimidation, but their position has now been vindicated,” Mr Storey added.

“It is not too late to review this entire project and to ensure that the gas, if it is to be extracted at all, be refined offshore or at a location acceptable to the local community, and that the deal with Shell be renegotiated to ensure the Irish people get a fairer share of the proceeds,” he said.

Irish Times

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