AS YET another oral hearing into the controversial Corrib gas project is due to open in Belmullet next week (Tuesday, August 24), community activists have said the project ‘will still have to be forced through’.
In recent weeks they have continued to show their concerns, with the latest protests bringing them to Sruwaddacon Bay. Schools of dolphins have been photographed jumping high out of the waters nearby in Broadhaven Bay over recent days, it has emerged
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Ms Mary Corduff, the wife of Rossport Five’s Willie Corduff, said that large numbers of the community group Pobal Chill Chomáin protested at Shell’s bore-holing rigs last week.
Shell to Sea has also been engaged in ongoing protests at these operations, which involve intricate testing to facilitate the possible sub-marine tunnel for the last link in the raw gas pipeline to the Bellanaboy refinery.
Shell has confirmed that these site surveys are due to continue until October next and are being carried out subject to a Foreshore License granted by the Department of the Environment.
However, Pobal Chill Chomáin is now set to make a formal complaint to Environment Minister, John Gormley about the impact of the bore-holing.
Despite the fact the refinery is almost completed and Shell has modified the proposed pipeline route, Ms Corduff said that ‘this project will still only go through by force’.
“We continue to have serious concerns about health and safety. How can we believe Shell that the raw gas is coming in through the valve (Land Valve Installation) at Glengad at reduced pressure?” she observed.
“Back in the beginning when Enterprise Energy Ireland was the developer they told us they had to bring the gas in at the high pressure (up to 345 bar) because it was the only way they could get it from the well which is over 80 kilometres away. So has technology improved that much?” Ms Corduff continued.
In the interim, Shell has committed to significantly reduce the pressure of gas in the onshore pipeline.
Moreover, the nearest occupied house will now be 234 metres from the pipeline – more than three times the original distance, according to the developer.
The reopened An Bord Pleanála hearing will assess new information and a fresh environmental impact statement submitted by Shell. It will be held in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel and is expected to last up to three weeks.
Meanwhile, Shell to Sea protestor Niall Harnett was released from Castlerea prison after 117 days in jail yesterday. He said he was returning immediately to the Rossport Solidarity Camp.