Mayo County Council is ‘extremely dissatisfied’ that noise from the Corrib gas project exceeded the permitted levels this summer, and it says it has taken ‘more robust’ measures to prevent it from happening again.
Residents close to Corrib gas site at Glengad complained of ‘unbearable’ noise coming from the site over the June Bank Holiday weekend during hydro-testing works carried out by Shell EP Ireland. Despite the complaints, Mayo County Council officials at the time said they had ‘no issue’ with the noise levels. However, they were left red-faced when a Department of Environment report confirmed that there were noise-level breaches on June 3 and 4.
At last week’s month meeting of the Belmullet Electoral Area Committee, Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh expressed her concern that no member of Mayo County Council was on site to monitor the noise levels and deal with the public’s concern.
In response, Martin Keating, Director of Services, accepted that the noise levels exceeded the permitted levels and said that measures would be taken to ensure there is no repeat during the tunnelling process.
“The developer [Shell] did supply us with information on the noise levels expected, and the model presented showed it would operate below the noise levels that are permitted with the planning permission. The Council is extremely dissatisfied that the model was not accurate, and that action was not taken to deal with the situation. A more robust procedure is now in place to ensure that action will be taken if noise levels are close to the permitted levels.”
The Council will have independent noise monitoring on site, as well as real-time access to the Shell’s monitor, which will give the Council more information. “The developer continues to take this matter seriously and ensures full co-operation … These additional robust procedures will ensure that this is not allowed to happen again,” he said.
Cllr Conway-Walsh said she was pleased a more robust procedure was in place but expressed her view that it was not acceptable that Shell EP Ireland would inspect itself if there was a breach in planning permission. She asked if Mayo County Council had the manpower and resources to monitor the site and if Shell would incur penalties.
Mr Keating replied that there were no direct sanctions for exceeding the noise limit but that Shell would cover the cost of monitoring the site.
Cllr Conway-Walsh also expressed her concern regarding the ‘debacle’ of the lorry carrying the tunnel-boring machine at a crossroads in north Mayo. She felt that there was no accountability for what happened and no clarification about whether the Council was given guarantees on the carrying capacity of the road from Sligo to the site.
Mr Keating replied that what went wrong on the day was down to ‘driver error’ and it was not a carrying issue. He said the Council and Shell EP Ireland restored access to the public as quickly as they could and there were no concerns for the structure of Glenamoy Bridge.
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