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PP makes submission to EPA
The Mayo News
Thursday, 17 May 2007
Áine RyanTHE PARISH PRIEST of Kilcommon, Father Michael Nallen, has called for the establishment of an independent body to undertake ‘a root and branch’ examination of the overall design of the Corrib gas project. He was making a closing submission on the final day of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) oral hearing into the issuing of an Integrated Pollution Prevention Control licence (IPPC) for the controversial project.“These people are really terrified, they’re conscious of a changing climate, and see the Bellanaboy site [of the proposed refinery] as unsuitable. They see what happened in Glengad and Pollathomas, a short distance away, where they had the terrifying experience of the bog starting to move all over the place, when the rain fell heavily,” said Father Nallen.He was referring to a series of catastrophic landslides that occurred in the area on the night of September 19, 2003, which led to the evacuation of a large number of houses and millions of euros in damages.Father Nallen also said the community was in turmoil, trust had been broken since the inception of the project, and that, essentially, the health and safety of the people should be prioritised. “There will be no progress until we get [back] to peace and harmony and, above all, trust, that which existed when I came here. To work towards this, we need to get an independent body. I have no doubt we can move forward with input from everybody, making the project environmentally friendly,” he said.Senior Counsel for Shell E&P Ireland, Mr Esmonde Keane, said ‘[a] large number of submissions appeared in essence to centre on planning application issues, which have already been fully assessed by Mayo County Council and An Bord Pleanála’. They had already granted planning permission.In his closing remarks, Mr Keane also said that Best Available Technology (BAT) had been used and that suggestions that Shell had chosen to avoid technologies, such as Twister (an innovative offshore option), to save on costs, were wholly incorrect.He conceded that Shell would be happy to expand its ‘robust monitoring’ system of the marine environment around the discharge point from the refinery, in line with proposals made by expert witness, Professor Peter Matthiessen, who had appeared on behalf of a local shellfish group.The Chairman of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association, Mr Eddie Diver, accused the Government of not acting responsibly and of abandoning the community to the exploits of a multinational corporation.“It is time our Government re-establishes control of our natural resources, whether on land, sea, or under the sea, and have them developed in the national interest with no adverse effect on local communities or indigenous industries,” he said.Ms Bríd McGarry, who is in ongoing legal proceedings against Shell, said ‘[this] proposal has been found to be fundamentally flawed by An Bord Pleanála’s Senior Planning Inspector and was subsequently rejected’ by the board.In his closing submission, retired teacher, Mr Niall King said ‘[undefined] commercially sensitive and national interests tie the hands of regulators and give every advantage to favoured developers’.“Human error and plant failure have consequences: this is nowhere faced up to in this project, which seems to propose that a perfect system is normal. Nowhere did Shell’s witnesses present possible negative effects of anything. Conclusions can only be as good as historical data. Who would want to buy our fish or to live here?” he said.

Posted Date: 
20 May 2007 - 9:46am