The decision by Shell to process the natural gas from the Corrib field off north-west Ireland at a site 8 kilometres inland precipitated the bitterest of the current environmental battles and may have far reaching consequences.
At the time of this note, September 2003, the initial 2001 planning application is in ruins, undermined by the Appeal's Board's hydrogeological expert, who demonstrated that the removal and storage on site of vast amounts of peat from the boggy Coillte site to excavate for the plant would be unstable and a danger to public health. Many fundamental questions remain: why were alternative sites not properly examined? Why did the normal checks and balances in the licensing system not work?
As we write, a new Major Infrastructure Bill is due to be published by the Government to fast track these kind of developments through the planning system and to avoid delays by environmental objectors in the planning system. Added to this, it is widely rumoured in Mayo that a new planning application will then be prepared, and the ill located and ill advised plant will be forced through on the residents.
Here we list some of the documents and coverage that will allow you to follow some of the case, on which members of FIE and their legal advisors invested astonishing amount of voluntary work. Search our Papers Today site for more. The cost of this case will not just be money, but human rights as the Government pursues its interests without consideration for the environment.
JUNE 22 2002
Read the Appeals Board Letter which detailed their concerns to the applicant. This is the to the developers which their failure to properly address led inevitably to the rejection of the plan: "It is considered based on the submissions made in connection with the planning application and appeal that in regard to the development concept proposed it has not been demonstrated that the remote siting of an onshore processing terminal eight kilometers inland from the landfall constitutes the best alternative..."
Read the decision itself.
Most important, read the Inspector's Report of the five week long oral hearing, and try to read David Ball's technical report, where illustrations and simple language make clear the unsustainable nature of the proposal.
Much of the work for landing the pipeline in Broadhaven Bay, and indeed much of the pipeline from the terminal to Limerick, was underway before planning permission had been obtained for the location of the plant. At the landing site, residents blockaded the work which was destroying a cliff where sandmartin's a protected species, lived in numbers.
Read of our letter to the Minister, and his answer - "The Sand Martins are not in serious danger from the proposed works...". This defied the media photographs which showed dead birds and excavating at nesting sites.
27 June, 2002: Pipeline blasts will destroy rare bird colony, says FIE
4 July 2002: Letter from the Minister to FIE
August 6, 2002: The work continues...
Photographs of the site and the destruction to the sand martin's habitat