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Sale of Corrib site may have breached guidelines: Flynn

The semi Sate body, Coillte, may have breached its own guidelines in selling a site to Shell for the development of the Corrib gas refinery.Mayo Dail Deputy, Ms Beverly Flynn, T.D. raised this issue with the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources during a debate on the Corrib gas find in the Dail and demanded a response on the issue and two other matters of concern to the relating to the controversial project.Ms Flynn was critical of the length of time it had taken to secure the release of the Rossport Five from Cloverhill prison where they had spent 94 days for breaching an injunction.But she noted that the men’s imprisonment had served to crystalise many of the issues of concern about the Corrib gas project for the people of Ireland.Ms Flynn said there was a local, regional and national issue to be addressed by the Government. On a local level the safety of the proposed onshore pipeline was a primary concern. The Deputy said she had questioned the Minister previously on the refinery site at Bellanaboy but had been advised that he could only deal with the proposal that had been submitted to him by the developer.Ms Flynn argued that the Minister had been obliged to consider the suitability of the terminal site sold to Shell by Coillte. He had ministerial power to examine the on-going safety of the pipeline which will stretch 9km inland. The location of the terminal building was therefore central to the safety issue:“It is a question that has not been addressed properly, whether or not alternative sites were considered because of the safety aspect of bringing a pipeline nine kilometres inland. It is a question which must be dealt with under the Advantica assessment, which will take place in the near future,” Deputy Flynn said.She noted that the Minister had advised her that, in selling the terminal site, Coillte would have had a responsibility to bring any decision to sell before its borad and to carry out a proper evaluation of the site.Ms Flynn said she had already asked the Minister whether Coillte had been in breach of its guidelines by not going to public tender when selling the site:“While we in this House all know that guidelines are not necessarily legally binding, they do set out what is the most desireable procedure for the sale of the site in the first instance and this matter must still be addressed at this stage,” Deputy Flynn said.She said that on a regional level, people were concerned about the benefits there would be to the people of Mayo from this project. She stressed that the people of that County had welcomed the Corrib project initially because they believed that they and their County would benefit from it.“We did not welcome it because Co Mayo would be used as some vehicle to transport the gas off our shoreline, through our county, to the benefit of other people, either in Ireland or in other countries, wherever the gas will be ultimately used.”Deputy Flynn revealed that she has asked the Minister to direct Bord Gais or to provide a Public Service Obligation (PSO), to ensure that spur lines might come off the infrastructure currently being laid across the country so that the people of Mayo can derive benefit through gas connections for the county’s major towns.“Last week the Minister articulated the benefits in terms of jobs and perceived industrial development that might follow but that will only happen if the towns in Co Mayo are connected to this supply,” Deputy Flynn said.She explained that the issue of concern nationally was why Ireland would not be benefiting from gas off its shoreline. The State will have to renegotiate its licensing terms for the benefit of the Irish people.The Deputy concluded: “All of these matters contribute to the fact that the people of Ireland, and particularly those in Mayo, want to know what benefit is in this project for us. We are not anti development. In fact, we are pro-development. We are pro-development provided that the safety of our people is guaranteed and also provided that there is something beneficial in it to the county and the country at the end of the day.”The Pro Erris Gas Group wants the Government to postpone the dismantling of the onshore Corrib gas pipeline.In a statement issued yesterday, Monday, October 17, the Pro Erris Gas Group called on the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to postpone the dismantling of a section of on-shore pipeline until the lates independent safety review has been completed.The 1.8km section of pipeline was welded together last July without the necessary Ministerial consent.The Pro Erris Gas Group has stated: “Pending agreement between Minister Noel Dempsey and Shell Ireland Ltd, we propose that the dismantling of the gas pipeline be postponed until the current safety review is complete.“In the event of the review body endorsing the present design, then the pipeline remain in place and the money that would have been wasted on dismantling the pipeline be spent exclusively on worthwhile community projects within the Kilcommon Parish.We suggest that Shell provide a minimum fund of €250,000 and call on Shell and Minister Dempsey to defer the dismantling work in order to facilitate our proposal.”

Posted Date: 
22 October 2005 - 1:31pm