Irish Times: Shell ultimatum to landowners over pipeline: “Shell E&P Ireland has issued a seven-day ultimatum to a group of north Mayo landowners to allow the company to lay the Corrib gas pipeline through their property.”: “Ms Maura Harrington, spokeswoman for the Erris residents, described Shell's action at the weekend as "bullying tactics". (ShellNews.net) 24 Jan 05
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Jan 24, 2005
Shell E&P Ireland has issued a seven-day ultimatum to a group of north Mayo landowners to allow the company to lay the Corrib gas pipeline through their property.
The seven landowners,who are concerned about health and safety aspects of the high-pressure pipeline, own 50 per cent of the grounds selected for the route linking the gas field 70 kilometres offshore with the planned refinery at Bellanaboy.
The pipeline carrying untreated gas is believed to be the only one of its type running so far inshore.
Ms Maura Harrington, spokeswoman for the Erris residents, described Shell's action at the weekend as "bullying tactics".
The ultimatum was issued by post late last week, and included a copy of certification claiming to show that Shell E&P Ireland has compulsory acquisition rights to the land, as granted by former marine minister Mr Frank Fahey in May 2002.
The landowners have questioned the paperwork, claiming the compulsory acquisition orders were issued to the former major shareholder in Corrib, Enterprise Energy Ireland (EEI), and not to Shell itself. The company said in its letter, dated January 19th, that all rights and entitlements formerly acquired by or vested in EEI Ltd now rested with it.
The company said its pipeline project engineer Mr Paul Gallagher, was "opposed and obstructed" and "unlawfully prevented . . . from surveying and pegging boundaries" on the land on January 10th and 11th. The residents claimed Mr Gallagher had not sought permission to enter the lands, and accused him of being unnecessarily provocative.
The landowners have also questioned why Shell sought to carry out work on Tuesday January 11th, the stormiest day of the year, with 97 mile per hour winds recorded at Belmullet, north Mayo.
The assistance of gardaI in Belmullet was sought by both groups on January 10th and 11th. In the correspondence, the landowners have been asked by solicitor Mr Eugene Collins to give an "unconditional undertaking" to Shell E&P Ireland "in writing" within seven days of receipt.
This undertaking involves agreement to "immediately cease and desist from all efforts and actions" which are "designed or intended to obstruct and/or frustrate" Shell's "efforts to exercise its lawful rights under said orders".
Otherwise, the company said it would issue proceedings in the High Court against the landowners. Shell E&P Ireland is already in the High Court Commercial Court over the €900 million Corrib gas field, as two judicial reviews of the project have been filed. The reviews have been sought by two separate parties opposed to the development, Mr Martin Harrington, brother of Ms Harrington, and Mr Peter Sweetman. Agreement was set last Friday for the cases to come up on February 21st.
Ms Harrington said yesterday that Shell's threat to the landowners was counter-productive, and smacked of 19th century landlordism. She also questioned the validity of the letters to the landowners as they had not been sent by registered post.