FURTHER protests and objections will almost certainly face Shell if they choose Corridor B of the three new routes announced last week as possible ways of bringing the controversial Corrib gas to the proposed refinery at Bellanaboy. A landowner on this route, Tony King from Aghoose, claims that everyone in the village will go to jail rather than allow raw gas traverse their properties. “There are about 24 or 25 people in this village and RPS [consultants for Shell] have not spoken to any of us even though they claim they have been consulting widely with the community. Everyone in the village will go to jail if we have to,” said Mr King. He added that the villagers were 100 per cent in favour of clean gas being brought ashore.Another landowner, Agnes McGrath, who lives in Rossport East, also says that RPS never consulted with her. She claims she got a letter on Friday, September 14 last which stated that ‘after further consultation’ the three land corridors had been chosen from a proposed eight corridors.“The route would go through our commonage land where we graze sheep. It has been in our family for four generations and I won’t be signing any consent,” said Ms McGrath. The nightmare for Shell about commonage is that because these lands are owned in undivided shares, every owner is effectively a co-owner of the entire tract of land.Agnes’s village neighbour, however, John Paul McGrath, has a different attitude. His farm was on the original pipeline route and is the first land in Rossport that would receive this newly-routed pipeline option.“I was never for the gas or against it and naturally would prefer if it was processed offshore. But I wouldn’t want to stop anything that might be good for the area,” said John Paul McGrath. A number of other landholders in the village also confirmed they would not be objecting to the gas going through their lands, however, they declined to be identified. According to RPS consultants, there are no homes along this route within the 300m corridor. By all accounts, the shortest route (C) of the three ‘preferred corridors’, which is straight up Sruwaddacon Bay, is the option that may be the cheapest for Shell and, in the long run, cost the company the fewest headaches. It would, however, be problematic for Green Party environment minister, John Gormley, as he would have to derogate its status as a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive.This route is 8.2 km long, crossing 4.5km of the Sruwaddacon Bay conservation area, which is also part of the Glenamoy salmon fishery and an important sea trout resource. The other choice (A) passes through large tracts of commonage, owned by dozens of people, close to a ribbon development of houses in Rossport, but avoids crossing the lands of Willie Corduff of the Rossport Five. RPS director, PJ Rudden has said these three corridors ‘offer the best prospect of satisfying the community, environmental and technical criteria’.“Until now we’ve been examining the corridors and carrying out environmental and technical studies, using selection criteria that was developed with community input. Three have emerged as preferred corridors and we have now invited landowners to talk to us. We’ve already talked to some of them this week and they are very positive and eager to see the preferred route emerge,” said PJ Rudden. Mr Rudden also said RPS obtained the names from the land registry which is not up-to-date, as well as information from local people about ownership of lands. He stressed that while they have carried out consultations, these were not exhaustive as their parallel aim was to identify these wide corridors so as to then bring consultation to a more rigourous level. RPS expects to identify the preferred route by the end of the year. Some months ago the Compulsory Acquisition Orders were vacated by the High Court for the original route. The new route may be submitted to An Bord Pleanála for approval under the Strategic Infrastructure Act if the board accepts it under the new fast-tracking legislation.
30 September 2007 - 11:58am