"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
Better Environmental Law is a critical objective for An Taisce to ensure that what happened with the Corrib project can never happen againToday, An Taisce accepted the State’s offer to settle the Judicial Reviews of the various permissions given this year in regard to the Corrib Gas Development project. The State acknowledged that certain aspects of the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive had not been transposed correctly and will engage formally with An Taisce in order to ensure that Environmental Law is properly implemented, with the joint further aim of ensuring that Ireland avoids paying large fines for transgressions of these European Laws.
Charles Stanley-Smith, Chair An Taisce, the Environmental charity, stated, “An Taisce maintains its position that the manner in which the Corrib Gas Development Project has been consented to and constructed is a travesty of European Environmental Law. That is why An Taisce initiated these judicial review proceedings. For those of you who have fought long and hard for vindication in relation to the manner in which this development proceeded, this is your victory
Rather than pursue these cases in open court, the State proposed a settlement to An Taisce. At the heart of this settlement is a commitment from the Government to complete outstanding legislative transposition, and to engage directly with An Taisce to address compliance with European Environmental Law. An Taisce will continue to do everything it can to make sure the vulnerabilities in Irish legislation are addressed. An Taisce will continue to ensure that decision-making and enforcement processes effectively protect the environment under European Environmental Law.”
He went on to say, “By settling this case we achieved with greater certainty the opportunity for tighter protection of Ireland's natural and built heritage, which is at the core of An Taisce's ethos. An Taisce has always made it clear they are not against the proper development of the Corrib Gas Field, however the issue for An Taisce is that such developments must be carried out in accordance with environmental law. “
Had these cases continued and had An Taisce won, further litigation to the Supreme Court would likely have followed. Today, the State has settled this case, rather than continue to defend it. This is a singular concrete acknowledgement of An Taisce’s concerns in respect of this development, no matter how they may continue to assert the validity of the challenged consents, or justify what they did today.
An Taisce has seized the opportunity to work with the State to do what it set out to do – to make sure all development is done in accordance with the law. This is a victory for the environment. An Taisce moves forward positively and in good faith with the Government to deliver support to them in their role to effectively implement Environmental Law.
The most incredible debt of gratitude must be acknowledged to An Taisce's legal team: Marilyn McNicholas & Co, James Devlin SC, Colm McEoicaidh SC, and Oisin Collins BL, whose expertise, outstanding commitment, and personal and professional sacrifice, delivered this victory. ”
Charles Stanley-Smith, Chair An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland an Environmental Charity , finished by stating “To all of you who supported us in getting to here – we thank you and trust you are satisfied with your vindication.”
An Taisce Ends
For further commentary/clarification please contact:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Chair, An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland,
An Taisce sought to judicially review consents granted in 2011 for the Corrib Gas Pipeline (third route). They were also granted leave to Judicially Review the Foreshore Licence issued by the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government in July of this year.
This meant that this most recent (foreshore)decision together with that of An Bord Pleanala's of January and the Section 40 (of the Gas Act) and Addendum to the Plan of Development consents granted by the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources in February -were all heard in the same proceedings.
An Taisce is not opposed to the development of the Corrib field per se, we simply wish to see it done right in accordance with the law. We are also concerned at the precedents for other decisions in the future given the issues with these recent consents.