"However, preparatory works currently under way will continue". This prompts the question: "Preparatory to what?"

A chara, - I welcome your publication of David Smith's succinct comments on the Corrib gas field exploitation (July 31st). On Monday, July 22nd, Shell/EEI announced postponement of pipe-laying through Broadhaven Bay. Bord Gáis subsequently announced suspension of any work on the Ballinaboy/Craughwell pipe line. This was seen as a rational response to the request from An Bord Pleanála for further information on the proposed refinery/terminal at Ballinaboy, North Mayo.

The board has requested that the developers, Shell/EEI:

1. Seriously consider alternative methods of bringing the gas ashore - i.e. cleaning at sea - together with a land-based reception terminal closer to potential Bord Gáis markets within Co Mayo.

2. Coherently address how it is intended to remove 600,000 cubic metres of peat, store it in repositories built on a sloping site with, to date, inadequate hydrological/hydrogeological supporting data.

3. Address the visual obtrusiveness and intrusiveness of a 40-acre plant site in a remote rural setting.

4. Comply with Health and Safety requirements as set out in the Seveso II directive (96/82/EC).

The developers' response is requested by September 20th.

In view of the foregoing, people would be forgiven for thinking that the Corrib gas project is suspended pending the final decision by An Bord Pleanála - that impression created, in fact, by Shell/EEI press releases. Unfortunately, that is not the case here in Erris. Shell/EEI are, as I write, continuing work at Glengad Beach, Pullathomas. This work involves trenching, pile-driving and dumping on a public beach. In an open letter in the Western People newspaper (July 31st) Mr Andy Pyle, newly appointed Shell managing director of EEI (Enterprise Energy Ireland) states:

"However, preparatory works currently under way will continue". This prompts the question: "Preparatory to what?"

The only rational explanation for the work being carried out at Glengad is that Shell/EEI intend to install the vital landfall connection component of the Corrib Gas Project. This work must be completed during August to avoid later adverse weather conditions.

The continuation of this work would appear to dismiss An Bord Pleanála's legitimate planning request that more suitable alternative sites be considered. Local people and concerned groups are now worried that, if the landfall connection is installed, Shell/EEI will then use the "balance of convenience" argument to put further pressure on the board.

It is insupportable that the beautiful Barony of Erris should be the site of environmental insult to add to that of national economic injury. - Is mise,


(c) Irish Times
August 4, 2002

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