Irish Natural Resources


The arrival of Shell’s “Armada” in Co. Mayo
October 8, 2008, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Energy, Irish Mineral Resources, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: , , ,


 

The largest pipelaying vessel in the world, the 1,300 ft Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, in Co. Mayo. Shell has employed a “small army” of private security men, backed up by gardai, to protect the landfall area. The Dutch-owned Solitaire can lay between four and seven km of pipeline a day and normally carries a crew of around 400. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib Gas field. Shell’s External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project: “You could describe it as the Corrib armada.”  Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.

Timeline of Events:

Thursday, July 24th: Over 40 gardaí, stationed in the Shell compound, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad beach so that Shell could erect 10ft high fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Gardai ordered the crowd to leave the area and then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. Members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when they tore down the cliff-face to create a causeway down to the beach. According to protestors, it was a joint Garda & Shell operation.

Gardai and Shell security formed a cordon around where they were planning to put up the fencing, and then Gardai came in and forcibly removed the protestors who were inside the security bubble. There was little that the group of around 30 protestors could do but watch as the fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the public beach in two, which of course means that users do not have the right of way through the beach.

The legality of the consents are an issue of major concern as it is unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. Green Party Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. A spokeswoman said that all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the Department’s website.

Shell is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. The further destruction of this Special Area of Conservation has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

16th August 2008: The Rossport Solidarity Camp was set up again for the purposes of reorganising Shell to Sea resistance to Shell’s latest plans to construct its offshore section of the pipeline from Glengad out to the Corrib Gas Field. Protests are ongoing, involving both Shell to Sea activists and members of the local community.

29th August: An Irish naval vessel was deployed as protests mounted over the controversial Shell gas pipeline. The Irish Defence Forces said the LE Orla, with 39 crew onboard, was requested by gardaí as back-up at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo.

A spokesman for the naval service said he could not recall any of its ships ever being directly involved in an operation against civil demonstrations.

2nd September: Another Irish Naval Service vessel arrived off the Mayo Coast. The Irish Naval Service is composed of seven vessels. The priority which is being given to this operation is an indication its political character.

Tuesday September 9th: The Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, as the accompanying security operation intensified. Extra Gardaí; including special public order units have arrived. Local schoolteacher Maura Harrington commences hunger strike at the gates of the compound. Her demand is that the Solitaire leave the bay or else her hunger strike will continue.

Wednesday September 10th: Pipelaying work is temporarily suspended. According to local newspaper, The Mayo Echo, unnamed Irish Naval sources have stated their concern that a British nuclear submarine is positioned 11 miles off the Mayo coast and is providing direct assistance to the Irish authorities in monitoring communications. So far the Irish Government has refused either to confirm or deny this report. A Royal Navy spokesman, while refusing to confirm or deny the report, stated that if there is a submarine in Irish waters “then it wouldn’t be there without the permission of the Irish authorities.”

Thursday September 18th: Shell announces that the Solitaire pipe laying ship is to depart from Irish territorial waters and go to Scotland for repair and assessment. 

Friday September 19th: Maura Harrington ends her hunger strike.

 

Sources:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88458

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0724/1….html

http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4498&Itemid=38

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88674

http://www.corribsos.com/index.php?id=1880

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/mhqlojeyojmh/

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88885

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88841

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88894

http://www.corribsos.com/

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88929

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/89019

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Shell Pipeline Now Exempt from Planning Permission

On Thursday, July 24th at approximately 8:00am over 40 Gardaí, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad Beach to enable Shell contractors to erect 10ft high security fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Superintendent John Gilligan ordered local people to leave the area. Gardaí then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. The members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when the cliff-face was torn down to create a causeway down to the beach. It appears that the entire operation was a joint Garda and Shell security operation.

The fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the beach in two, which of course means that beach goers do not have the right of way through the beach. Shell to Sea campaigner Terence Conway stated “The gardaí have always spoken about keeping the roads open for the public and Shell alike however today they are willing to close off a public beach so that Shell can fence it off”. The legality of the consents given are an issue of major concern as it is now unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. While Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. This was an “oversight”, the spokeswoman said, and all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the website from today.

Shell Oil is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. Terence Conway continued ”The fact is that this first onshore section is the most dangerous part of the whole project as the pressure could be as high as 345bar and still it will not have gone through any planning if it is constructed”.

The further destruction of the Special Conservation Area has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Corrib protest has now moved to sea as North Mayo fishermen called on the Government to protect their rights to continue using the traditional fishing grounds.
A flotilla of over 30 boats, and up to 100 fishermen, appeared on the edge of Broadhaven  Bay. Sailing from Killala, Belderrig, Blacksod, Porturlin, Frenchport and Rinroe, they tied up to applause from the large  quayside crowd of supporters. The protest was organised by the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association (EIFA), and was a symbolic show of solidarity ahead of the arrival of the world’s largest sub-sea pipe-laying boat, the Solitaire (1,300ft long) – now anchored off Killybegs. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib field.

The protest was also convened to highlight the stand-off between Shell and the fishermen’s organisation over the location of the refinery’s ouflow pipe in a rich fishery.  Members of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association say they are still considering staging a sea blockade if Shell goes ahead with the pipeline which will have an outfall point outside the bay. Broadhaven Bay is a Special Area of Conservation, and the EIFA has expressed concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs over possible damage to fish stocks.

The Department of the Environment has now granted permission to the Corrib gas developers to construct a key section of onshore pipeline without approval from An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Infrastructure Act. Shell EP Ireland and its consultants RPS had said earlier this summer that the entire onshore section would be submitted to An Bord Pleanála under the new fast-tracking legislation, apart from two estuary crossings which are regarded as “marine” and come under the Foreshore Act.

The Department of the Environment has therefore stated that a high-pressure section at the Glengad landfall which runs under Dooncarton mountain, location of a 2003 landslide, and across a public beach used by locals and tourists is “exempted” from planning permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000. Shell Oil intends to start laying the offshore section of the pipeline very soon. Almost inevitably, this will lead to a confrontation with the inshore fishermen.

Sources:

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88458

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0724/1….html

http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4498&Itemid=38

http://www.mayoadvertiser.com/index.php?aid=1315

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0729/1217279097124.html