03 January 2006

Taxpayers to foot €70,000 bill for pipeline safety report

Irish Examiner

By Tom Gillespie and Seán McCárthaigh
03 January 2006

TAXPAYERS will have to fork out at least €70,000 for the Advantica report commissioned by the Government into the safety of the proposed controversial Shell onshore gas pipeline in north Mayo.
Independent Mayo TD Jerry Cowley said he has been told that the cost of the report will amount to at least €70,000.

The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, said Advantica had been appointed to conduct the safety review following a public tendering process.

Advantica presented a draft of this independent safety review to the local community on December 8 in Belmullet and a discussion was held.

Mr Dempsey said: “The technical advisory group within my department is taking submissions on this draft and these will be forwarded to Advantica for the preparation of a final draft.

“As Advantica has yet to submit a final report and we cannot rule out the possibility of further work being required, a precise figure for a final cost is not available. However, the contracted amount for work done is approximately €70,000.”

Dr Cowley said he could not agree the report represented good value as it has failed to address the concerns of the residents of the Rossport and Bellanaboy areas.

Shell E&P Ireland also rejected some of the findings of the Advantica report, although the exploration company accepted the principle of limiting gas pressure in the pipeline.

The draft report claimed Shell had failed to take account of “societal risk to the local population as a whole” in its assessment of the threat posed by the 9km pipeline linking the Corrib gas field to a refinery at Bellanaboy.

The final report by Advantica is due to be completed shortly when it will be forwarded to the minister’s Corrib technical advisory group for further consideration.

Meanwhile, the Shell to Sea campaign, which opposed the Advantica report on the basis that it did not address their safety concerns, has predicted that opposition to the pipeline will intensify in the new year.

They have established “a solidarity camp” at Rossport, Co Mayo which the group hopes will become the focus for future resistance efforts.

It is located on lands owned by one of the Rossport Five - the group of local men who spent 94 days in Cloverhill Prison over their refusal to obey a High Court order.

They are due back in the High Court on January 24 when a number of procedural matters related to the action being brought against them by Shell will be raised.

A Shell to Sea spokesperson said the camp has been established in anticipation that Shell intend to restart work on construction of the pipeline in February.

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