Skip to main content

Walkout at pipeline hearing

The Irish Times
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Áine Ryan
Brendan Philbin of the so-called Rossport Five yesterday withdrew in protest from the Corrib gas public hearing, saying it was farcical that the project was being discussed with no specific pipeline route being known.
It was argued that without a specific revised route, there must also be doubt about the applicability of the independent safety review commissioned by Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey.
Frank Clinton, chairman of the oral hearing organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), acknowledged that there was a gap in information in this regard.
However, Mr Clinton said his legal advice was "to press on" despite Shell's recent vacating of compulsory acquisition orders in the High Court regarding the original route.
The company has informed the agency it is not yet in a position to clarify matters relating to a proposed new on-land route.
On the ninth day of the hearing into the granting of an integrated pollution prevention control (IPPC) licence for the Corrib gas refinery, Mr Philbin said no licence should be issued until court proceedings were concluded.
He asked how the EPA could reach valid conclusions by calculating imaginary figures. The new pipeline could be 5km long or 50km long, he said.
"The whole reason for this hearing is to deal with facts. The applicant is here seeking an IPPC licence. There's a gas field, there's a site for a refinery but there's a big blank in between," Mr Philbin said.
Mr Clinton agreed he would have to consider such problems in his report.
"You are absolutely right, the changing situation in the background has a bearing," said the chairman. He added the new pipeline could change the inventory of what is needed for the project.
"You cannot deal with an IPPC licence when there's a vital piece of infrastructure missing. If you cannot deal with this in a more hands-on way, I'm withdrawing from the hearing in protest," Mr Philbin said. After declining to answer questions from Esmonde Keane SC, for Shell, he gathered his papers and left.
John Monaghan, a Shell to Sea spokesman, said the Advantica Independent Safety Review was no longer valid, and that independent mediator Peter Cassells's report, by association, was also questionable.
Vincent McGrath, also of the group of five protesters, referred to the ancient lore around Sruwaddacon Bay and its association with the Children of Lir.
"They were called Fionnuala and Aodh; maybe if they were around nowadays they'd be called Jay and Rocco," he said. The hearing reconvenes next Tuesday.
© 2007 The Irish Times

Posted Date: 
30 April 2007 - 7:57pm