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Shell loses licence to operate controversial Mayo gas terminal

Michelle Hennessy -

SHELL HAS LOST a licence to operate a gas terminal at Bellanaboy in Co Mayo after a court challenge by a local resident.

The licence had been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in June of this year but today the Commercial Court conceded the case brought by Martin Harrington and rescinded the licence.

Harrington had argued that the EPA failed to carry out a proper environmental impact assessment before granting the licence for Shell to operate the Mayo gas refinery and the Commercial Court found there were defects in the carrying out of the assessment.

The EPA said it accepted the decision made by the court to quash the licence and it will now consider the verdict. The agency had not opposed Harrington in his action and will pay his legal costs.

In a statement, Shell E&P Ireland Limited said the developments in court today will be examined and following consultation with the relevant bodies, it “fully anticipates that the required licences will be in place” when the pipelines starts production.




***** Some interesting comments from Joe Noonan - Solicitor *****************

Joe Noonan yesterday had a story on how fines of over €3,600,000 were paid out of public funds to the EU because Ireland had broken EU environmental laws after promising to implement them. Today brings another sorry tale from the same story book. This time ironically the Environmental Protection Agency admits breaking environmental protection law. Hard to believe? It didn’t have to come to this.

Over 10 years ago my firm identified a basic legal blunder in how the State had tried to apply the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. We told the State what it was. Amazingly instead of fixing the problem, all the State agencies went onto the defensive saying ‘if you think we’re wrong, prove it in Court’.

So we did.

It took the help of the EU Commisssion and seven years of litigation.

People can read the EU Court of Justice judgment online – just Google the Commission v Ireland Case C-50/09.

It is hard to understand that defensive mindset. Shouldn’t the State obey the laws it signs up to?

Joe Noonan
Noonan Linehan Carroll Coffey


Joe Noonan 

Your assumption is wrong. The EU Commission took the case on its own initiative after we wrote to it with our legal analysis – something we did only after the responsible Irish officials had turned a blind eye to the flaw we identified.

That is how this type of case and others like it are run: the Commission is like the EU policeman, upholding the law by bringing cases against a country where there is a valid complaint.

The lawyers paid the most by the State were probably the ones it hired to defend the indefensible. The EU Court also ordered the State to pay towards the costs incurred by the EU Commission in bringing the case to the Court. That information is not public but if you ask the Government maybe they will tell you what the bills came to. Let us know how you get on with that.

All of that money would have been saved if the powers that be had listened to us, or to others making similar points. For no charge.

Instead you, me and every other taxpayer get to pay the price. Again.

Posted Date: 
16 October 2013