"This is one of the most important stories of it's kind in Europe."
The Irish Times
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Minister for the Environment John Gormley is to order Shell consultants to restore a protected habitat in north Mayo where unauthorised drilling took place last month for the Corrib gas project.
The direction will point out that failure to comply with it may result in criminal proceedings being taken under the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997.
Mr Gormley is understood to be "very disappointed" that the multinational failed to follow proper procedures, but has been informed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service that no significant damage took place to the most sensitive ecological area.
The location at Glengad is a special area of conservation (Sac) within the Glenamoy bog. Mayo County Council had sought a court order against a Shell to Sea solidarity camp based in the same locality on the grounds that it posed a threat to the Sac.
RPS, the consultants who undertook work for Shell as part of the Corrib gas project, had drilled two boreholes of between 15m (49ft) and 25m depth at Glengad, site of the landfall for the pipeline from the Corrib gas field.
Permission had been given by the landowner, according to the consultants, who admitted that written authorisation had not been sought from the Minister.
Contravention of this "without reasonable excuse" is described as an "offence" in the legislation.