County Mayo, Ireland


For 8 years, a part of the coast of the county Mayo in Ireland is threatened by the building of a refinery conducts hand in hand by SHELL and the Irish government. This site is listed within the Natura 2000 network ("Special Area of Conservation" in Ireland), it is therefore acknowledged at European level as a natural area with high preservation challenges. In spite of this status, European laws and environmental damages caused by the building work, the project is kept by the Irish ministry for the Environment and its minister Eamon Ryan seems to support this project.

In this unequal struggle, the locals tempt to claim their rights to live in a healthy environment. Three groups opposed against the project have been constituted, hunger strikes have been conducted, resistance camps have been erected each spring and the local fishermen get organized to defend their tools upon which their livelihood depends: a quality natural site. Destiny seems also onboard since it is the third attempts from the firm SHELL to set up pipelines on the site.

The expected authorisation for the building of a refinery has been refused in an unequivocal way by Kevin Moore, inspector for the planning of An Bord Pleanala, statuary organ in charge of land settlement in Ireland.

Its report about this matter indicates that: "from a strategic development perspective, it is not the right site; from a governmental policy perspective that is trying to encourage a sound regional development, it is not the right site; and consequently, from a sustainable development perspective, it is not the right site.

From this time onward where the Council is required, in accordance with the Local Government Act (for planning and development), passed in 2000, taken into account a decent planning and a sustainable development of a region in which a building site is an ongoing project.

I think the establishment of a major gas terminal in this rural area, picturesque and unserved, in a marshy land located in County Mayo, about 8 kilometers from the coast, which will generate developmental difficulties, visual disturbance, will raise cocerns for the public safety, will affect traffic and the environment, and will have all sorts of other negative ecological impacts in general, defies in a rational manner everything that relates the term "sustainability".

The issue of wastewater is twofold:

  • There is a pipe that rejects impurities to the sea and a perforated-perimeter ditch which would encircle the draingae from the site.

  • The pip that contains the stored wastewater is designed to withstand a few hours of uninterrupted rain, while close to the site, the town Crossmolina has suffered 106 days of non-stop rain during the fall of 2004. The overflow of the pip will pour in the Carrowmore Lake, which provides drinking water to 10,000 people in the Erris region.

Surfrider Foundation Europe was requested to come in support to the committees of opposition and wished to recover it undid of David against Goliath. Unfortunately, the project moved forward very quickly and seems to have got overcome of the very strong local determination.

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