Ig | 17.09.2008 22:32
Initially it appeared that the work was illegal as consents for pipeline work at Glengad had not been granted. It later emerged that the authorizations had been given, but the government had failed to publicize them. Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan claimed that the failure to publicize the consents had been an “oversight”. “Oversights” such as this characterize the politics of the project and are exactly what the Green party minister was so critical of in opposition.
This key section of the pipeline was granted permission outside of the usual planning process. Eamon Ryan used the Gas Act to exempt what is arguably the most dangerous part of the whole project. The 200 metre exempted section will be subject to the pipeline’s highest pressures (potentially up to 345 bar, the highest pipeline pressure in a residential area anywhere in the world) and runs from the landfall at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain. The original landfall permission was awarded in 2002 before the devastating 2003 landslide that saw 200,000 cubic meters of debris washed off Dooncarton, destroying houses, bridges and roads. In spite of the obvious dangers, no review of the permission has taken place since this time.
Pipeline work is ongoing despite the fact that planning permission for the remainder of the modified onshore pipeline route has not yet been granted. The proposed onshore route runs 9km through protected blanket bog habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Specially Protected Areas (protected habitats under the EU habitats directive), commonage and farmland.
Since the occupation of Glengad beach by Shell in late July, the company’s bright yellow security army are a constant source of intimidation in the Broadhaven Bay area. The unidentified security (often wearing balaclavas), use video cameras and binoculars to monitor anyone on, or near, the public beach, including children. The company hired by Shell is headed by a former member of the elite Irish Rangers Unit and while the company claim that current members of the defense force are not part of the operation, it is known that other former military personal have been hired.
Meanwhile, Shell has used its usual tactics of divide and rule and bribery to silence resistance from local fishers to the project, overcoming what the company views as one of the final hurdles preventing the Solitaire beginning work in the bay. The local fishers universally expressed concerns over the location of the discharge pipe and its outfall diffuser (certain to pollute both Broadhaven Bay and inshore waters) and disruption to their work during the laying of the offshore pipeline. However, last week, after long negotiations, a significant number of fishers have agreed to keep quiet in return for compensation. Others however, remain resolute in their opposition. Fisherman Pat O Donnell stated, “I believe the health of the marine environment for future generations is more important than short term compensation” He says that himself and the other fishers who refused to accept Shell’s bribe will continue to fish in the path of the Solitaire.
And its not just the locals who are refusing to bow to the might of Shell, the ocean is also fighting back. Dredging operations for the offshore pipeline have seen several boats in difficulties, marooned on rocks in the choppy waters of Broadhaven Bay and in need of emergency repairs. So, with a call out for action, dissident fishermen and turbulent waters there is reason to believe the Solitaire won’t be in for an easy ride…
Now is the time to come to Mayo to support the campaign. Check out the Rossport Solidarity Camp website for travel and accommodation info.
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