DISMISSED THE CHARGE Mr Justice Frank Clarke.
Supreme Court dismisses Corrib challenge
THE Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to the validity of Compulsory Acquisition Orders (CAOs) for the original Shell pipeline route in north-west Mayo. Media reportage, after last week’s decision, failed to clarify that the route has been significantly changed since these proceedings were taken in the aftermath of the jailing of the Rossport Five in 2005.
The genesis of the long-running case involved Shell taking an action against a number of landowners who impeded access to their lands, after former Minister Frank Fahey granted CAOs to the oil and gas company.
Only two of the landowners, Brendan Philbin and Bríd McGarry, were ultimately involved in the proceedings decided last week. They had made counter-claims challenging the validity of the CAOs for the pipeline that were issued by Minister Fahey in 2001. The minister, Attorney General and Shell were named as defendants in the case.
In April 2007 Shell withdrew its proceedings against the landowners but the counter-claim remained. The minister then requested the High Court to rule that the defendants were guilty of delay and out of time to bring their action. Then in March 2010 the High Court’s Ms Justice Laffoy stated that court rules permitted the extension of time for bringing such actions.
However, last week Mr Justice Frank Clarke, on behalf of a three-judge Supreme Court, made an order dismissing the challenge deeming it out of time under court rules.
He said that if there was carte blanche for a person, once sued, to bring a legal challenge well outside the time when that the original decision was made, it would render the regime for timely challenges to public measures ‘largely ineffective and (would) be apt to lead to significant injustice’.
When contacted by The Mayo News, a Shell spokeswoman said:” Shell E&P Ireland Limited (SEPIL) notes the decision of the Supreme Court in relation to a judicial review that was sought in respect of some of the now superseded consents granted in 2002 for the Corrib gas project.”
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