SHELL E&P Ireland began construction work on the final phase of the Corrib gas project yesterday, with clashes between a small number of protesters and a cordon of 75 security personnel.
The confrontations occurred when equipment was moved into the construction site for the gas pipeline and tunnel at Aughoose.
One protester who claims he was injured by four I-RMS security personnel has lodged a complaint with the Garda. The firm said it was “not aware of any injuries”.
The human rights observer deployed by Frontline and Amnesty International was not in the area at the time and did not witness the incident. Frontline has confirmed the observer had been present earlier, and had informed various parties she would be away for the day.
The work on the final section of the 8.3km pipeline, approved by An Bord Pleanála with 58 conditions, involved constructing a 4.9km tunnel under Sruwaddacon estuary, a Special Area of Conservation.
The Commercial Court is due to hear judicial reviews sought by An Taisce and several local residents which challenge the planning board’s approval, and separate consents signed by outgoing minister for energy Pat Carey on the day of the last general election.
Shell said in a statement yesterday it had full consents for the work, which was “expected to take in excess of two years to complete and represents an investment of several hundred million euro by the Corrib gas partners”.
The company said it was “committed to ensuring that this final construction phase has the least possible impact on the local community”. It said five full-time community liaison officers were available to deal with queries.
Up to 15 supporters of the Rossport Solidarity Camp and Shell to Sea have been staging demonstrations for the past three days at a Bord na Móna site at Srahmore, near Bangor Erris, where some 75,000 cubic metres of peat unearthed from the pipeline route are due to be deposited.
Early on Thursday, gardaí removed a caravan used by members of the camp, across from the Aughoose works site. A camp spokeswoman said they believed the caravan had been illegally seized and impounded by Mayo County Council. “This caravan was on private property on the edge of a field and we are seeking clarification on why it was removed,” the spokeswoman said.
Mayo County Council said in a statement it “removed a temporary dwelling which was causing a hazard to road traffic users from the roadside at Aughoose, in accordance with section 69 of the Roads Act 1993”.