JUST like Anglo-Irish Bank, the Corrib project has proven to be ‘too big’ to take-on by the government. That’s the view of north Mayo community group, An Pobal Chill Chomáin, who welcomed last week’s move by An Taisce (The National Trust) to seek a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s recent ruling, which granted permission for the last section of the Corrib pipeline to run through a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The decision was made as Richie O’Donnell’s award-winning documentary, The Pipe, is shown in over 25 cinemas around the country, including Mayo Movie World in Castlebar. The Pipe will also be shown on TG4. soon. Less than a week after ABP’s latest ruling on the controversial pipeline, An Taisce’s chairman, Charles Stanley-Smith revealed that the national environmental body believed the ruling was ‘legally flawed’ and had major implications for the implementation of European directives in Ireland.
The planning appeals board ruling allows the final section of the pipeline, encompassing a sub-sea tunnel in Sruwaddacon Bay, run through a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Commenting, Mr Stanley-Smith said: “An Taisce was very disappointed with An Bord Pleanála’s decision. An Taisce considers that the implications of this decision go far beyond the Corrib gas pipeline and have major repercussions for the status of implementation of European Directives in Ireland. In this instance, An Taisce has concerns both in relation to Irish and European Law”
The Trust has been successful in pursuing a number of Judicial Reviews of An Bord Pleanála decisions.
Community group, Pobal Chill Chomáin has welcomed the move, accusing ABP of basing its decision ‘on political and pragmatic grounds’ rather than the prioritization of the health and safety of the receiving community.
“The piecemeal approach to consents which has characterised the Corrib project has permitted Shell, Statoil and Vermilion to advance the development incrementally so that at each stage a fait accompli is being presented. As with the ‘too big to fail’ approach to Anglo Irish Bank, it appears that An Bord Pleanála has accepted the lie that it is ‘too late to stop now’,” the group said in a hard-hitting statement.
It continued: “As is now clear to all, the Irish State has long been reckless in regards to the wellbeing of its citizens. In the case of Corrib the State has at all times put the interests of multinational corporations above the safety of our community. The Corrib gas project has been disastrous from the outset.
Inspector Martin Nolan imposed 57 conditions in his recent ruling on behalf of ABP.
Pobal Chill Chomáin has also called for the urgent ratification into Irish law of the Aarhus Convention, before the final consents are granted by incoming ministers. It observes this would provide access to justice in environmental issues and prevent the difficulties associated with the abortive Corrib gas project’.
Shell to Sea last week expressed grave concerns about the expedition of consents during the dying days of this government.
When contacted yesterday, A Shell spokeswoman declined to comment on the proposed judicial review by An Taisce or whether it would significantly delay the project.
In a separate development the Garda Síochána have confirmed they had been aware of undercover policeman, Michael Kennedy’s (alias: Stone) participation in environmental protests here. Mr Kennedy reportedly visited the Corrib protest in north Mayo in March 2006 and also advised on direct action tactics at a Shell to Sea workshop.