Wednesday 2 June 2010

Planning board to assess latest Corrib plan

AN BÓRD Pleanála says it will take “some days” to assess whether Shell’s revised Corrib gas onshore pipeline application qualifies for a resumed oral hearing.

Shell’s revised option for the pipeline, which involves tunnelling under the Sruwaddacon estuary, is being assessed by the board’s gas inspection team, headed by Martin Nolan. The inspection team will make a recommendation to the appeals board when the assessment is complete, according to a spokesman.

If it meets the Strategic Infrastructure Act criteria, it is expected the oral hearing convened a year ago by the board will resume in a few weeks.

The new route is the third since the Rossport five were jailed almost five years ago in a row over the original pipeline route – which was then exempt from planning.

Shell says it believes the new plan submitted on Monday “meets or exceeds” all “relevant” international and national codes and standards.

It has also applied to Bord Pleanála for compulsory acquisition orders for 10 pieces of land at Glengad/Dooncarton, Aughoose and Bellagelly South, under section 40 of the Gas Act.

The nearest occupied house will now be 234m away from the pipeline – more than three times the original distance, Shell says.

Last November, the planning board vindicated Rossport residents’ concerns when it found that up to half of the company’s second pipeline route was “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport and between Aughoose and Glengad on the northern and southern shores of Sruwaddacon.

The appeals board suggested the developers explore another route, up the Sruwaddacon estuary, a special area of conservation. Kilcommon parish community group Pobal Chill Chomáin, which suggested a compromise two years ago to relocate the Ballinaboy terminal, said the new plan “does not address the core issue, the location of the terminal”.

“By tunnelling the pipeline up the estuary, it will effectively remove responsibility for approval from Bord Pleanála’s jurisdiction. It will become a foreshore matter, or perhaps the company will rely on the 2002 government consents,” the group’s spokesman John Monaghan said.

Mr Monaghan said the outbreak of three fires in the past three days within several kilometres of the Ballinaboy terminal highlighted residents’ fears about the project.

Over the weekend, Belmullet fire brigade fought blazes in forestry at Glenamoy just south of the Ballinaboy terminal, at Bunahowna and at Bellagelly, close to the original pipeline route.

Irish Times

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