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Key Corrib license quashed by court

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Corrib license quashed by court


Áine Ryan


THE controversial Corrib gas project suffered yet another setback last week when the Commercial Court’s  Justice Peter Kelly granted an order quashing the modified EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) license for the refinery at Ballinaboy.  
THE modified IPPC (Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control) license, which addressed issues raised during an EPA oral hearing in 2007, was issued last June.
Justice Kelly granted the order to Mr Martin Harrington, of Doohoma, Ballina, after the EPA confirmed it was not opposing his legal challenge to the revised license. The EPA also agreed to pay Mr Harrington’s costs.
In Mr Harrington’s judicial review challenge he argued the EPA had failed to carry out an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) as stipulated by various EU directives, including the Habitats Directive.
He claimed the agency had erred in law by seeking to retrospectively carry out an EIA at a meeting of the EPA held on June 25, 2013.  
As a notice party to the proceedings, Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL) had sought to fast-track the proceedings saying the case had ‘significant potential commercial consequences’ for the €2.7 billion Corrib gas project.

Pivotal
The EPA license, which was first applied for back in 2004,  is pivotal to the statutory authorisations for the project. However, during an oral hearing in 2007, residents objected to the license on a number of grounds, including its possible risk to the public drinking water system sourced at Carrowmore Lake and the use of cold-venting and gas ‘flaring’ to relieve pressure.
Ultimately the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association (EIFA) forced a review of the license following a high-profile campaign to ensure that emissions from the project’s outflow pipe would not have an impact on the marine environment in Broadhaven Bay.
Shell committed to using an alternative method and move the proposed location of the pipe for the discharge of ‘treated produced water’ after negotiations with the fishermen.  
The legal challenge related to the process followed by the EPA during their determination of a review application of an IPPC License granted to SEPIL in 2007.  
Responding to the judgement last week, a Shell spokesman said: “The review application was for minor changes to the licensed activity, namely the operation of the Bellanaboy Bridge Gas Terminal in Co Mayo. Today’s developments in court will be examined by SEPIL and following consultation with the relevant bodies, SEPIL fully anticipates that the required licenses will be in place for First Gas.”

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