Irish Times: Shell wants Commercial Court to rule on gas field: “Opponents of the Corrib gas project in north Mayo are considering an application by Shell E&P Ireland to have two judicial reviews transferred to the High Court's Commercial Court.” (ShellNews.net) 17 Jan 05
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Jan 17, 2005
Opponents of the Corrib gas project in north Mayo are considering an application by Shell E&P Ireland to have two judicial reviews transferred to the High Court's Commercial Court.
A Commercial Court hearing would expedite the reviews being sought by Mr Martin Harrington, a Geesala-based electrician, and by Mr Peter Sweetman, a Dublin-based planning and environmental consultant.
Mr Harrington's application has been listed for today's sitting of the High Court, while Mr Sweetman's application has been listed for January 24th.
Shell E&P Ireland informed both parties late last week that it intended to make an application this Friday to the Commercial Court. The application is being sought on the grounds that the gas project is of "considerable commercial importance" for Shell.
Solicitors for the company say it has invested over €400 million on the project so far and intends to spend a further €500 million during construction. The target date for selling gas from the Corrib field to customers is during the first half of 2007, according to the company.
Mr Harrington's review has been taken against An Bord Pleanala and the Attorney General, and focuses on the appeal board's responsibilities in relation to the Seveso II Directive on the transfer of dangerous substances. He is arguing that An Bord Pleanala failed to obtain sufficient technical advice from the Health and Safety Authority over the onshore section of the pipeline - the longest of its type in the world carrying high-pressurised untreated gas, and running close to Dooncarton mountain where landslides occurred in September 2003.
The board had essentially "set aside" the Seveso II Directive when it came to the Corrib gas field, Mr Harrington argued.
Mr Sweetman's review has been filed against An Bord Pleanala, Mayo County Council and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
He is arguing that the appeals board is in breach of two directives by failing to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the entire Corrib gas project. He said no integrated assessment of the likely significant effect of the whole project has been carried out, because the project has been split into a number of parts which have been assessed separately.
Legal representatives for Mr Sweetman are expected to argue that the environmental aspects of the project outweigh its commercial significance, and may invoke a 2003 European Directive which implements the Aarhus Convention.
This allows objectors to challenge such decisions at a reasonable cost to themselves.
The same directive also argues that there must be public consultation in relation to the Seveso II Directive on the transport of dangerous substances. It is expected that both cases may be heard concurrently if they are transferred to the Commercial Court.