Corrib enquiry day 1 as new gas field claimed off west coast

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Yesterday saw the first day of the new An Bord Pleanala oral hearing into Shell’s attempts to impose an experimental gas pipeline on the people of Kilcommon in Co. Mayo. Shell stand to make billions out of the Corrib gas field with the Irish state seeing almost no revenue from these profits or the profits that are likely to arise from other oil & gas discoveries now being made. Claims for a field much bigger than Corrib off the west coast have been made in the last few days.

Yesterdays hearing concentrated on issues around the geology, pipeline construction as well as seeing segments on community and socio-economic issues. Rossport resident Jim Monaghan told RTE news that the “community has very serious concerns about the location of the pipeline and refinery, all of the concerns we had from day one remain.” Over 80 written objections have now been received by over 300 people from the area, the enquiry is scheduled to last ten days but a final decision is not expected until the end of the year. An issue of concern is the insistence of the An Bord Pleanála inspector Martin Nolan to limit oral submissions by observers to 15 to 20 minutes along with demanding that questions be submitted in writing in advance.

There was a large turnout of Shell to Sea and other campaigners at the hearing where a major issue of controvery was the 10m section of pipeline at Glengad that Shell has already built above the high water market despite not having permission from An Bord Pleanala. Local campaigner and retired school teacher Ed Moran revealed that “Part of the route was left out of the application and still is and the hearing should not go ahead on this basis.” There were also objections to the fact that Shell was submitting new data at the enquiry that people had not had a chance to examine in advance.

Meanwhile Oisin Fanning of San Leon Energy was reported in the Sunday Tribute of 22 August as claiming that San Leon Energy had discovered another gas field off the west coast that could be considerably bigger than the Corrib field. This along with the other recent reported find of 60-80 billion worth of oil off Dalkey is further confirmation of the hundreds of billions of oil & gas that the government estimate to lie off the Irish coasts and which they are giving away for nothing to energy corporations and only seeking the most minimal tax on profits, the second lowest in the world.

At the center of this hearing is the plan by Shell to build a tunnel under the Sruwaddacon Estuary Special Area of Conservation.
The tunnel will be
• 4.9 kilometers long
• 4.2 meters in diameter
• Require 15 months of tunnelling
• Tunnelling will take place 24 hour a day
• Thee will be 944 truck movements a day at peak construction
• 68,000 m3 of material will need to be removed
• 2.5 km of 3m high fencing will be erected

Words: Andrew

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