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Public Meeting in response to latest giveaway of Donegal's Gas and Oil
Friday October 06, 2006 21:24 by Amanda Slevin
A public meeting will be held in response to the latest allocation of exploration licenses in the Donegal, Slyne and Erris Basins. Donegal citizens are angry that licenses for their offshore natural resources have been given to multinational companies without any consultation and with very little benefit for the County. The meeting will be held on Wednesday the 11th October at 8pm in Jackson's Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. All Welcome.
Anger as Government gives away Donegal’s wealth
In response to the Government’s latest giveaway of our natural resources in Donegal, a public meeting will be held In Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey on Wednesday 11th October (8p.m.). As the most disadvantaged county in Ireland, Donegal people have been left reeling over the announcement that the Government has allocated exploration licenses to a range of multinationals companies. A potential 780 billion euros worth of gas and oil off the North West Coast has been given to three applicants, Island Oil, Lundin and Endeavour; Shell and Statoil; and Serica Energy.
With questions over the future of the government and with a general election looming in 2007, a new lobby group has emerged to voice the concerns of local people over the granting of rights to reserves of gas off the Donegal Coast. In late July, over two hundred people gathered at a fundraising event to support the Rossport Five with message from the crowd being clear: ‘What happened in Rossport can happen here’.
Next week’s public meeting will create a place for local people to voice their concerns. The night will also step up the campaign around the rights to the county’s natural resources and the collusion between the state and multi national companies in selling off our natural resources. Campaigners are outraged that from Malin Head to Killybegs, an estimated 10 billion barrels of our gas and oil will be taken from our county and given directly in the hands of these multinational companies with no benefits.
In January 2005 and August 2006, Minister Noel Dempsey granted exploration licenses to a range of multinationals companies including Shell and Statoil; Island Oil, Lundin and Endeavour; and Serica Energy for gas and oil reserves in the Slyne, Erris and Donegal basins. The local lobby group is urging for informed public debate on the issues and highlights the fact that “There was no local consultation initiated by the County Council or the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; there was virtually no coverage in the local media and our local elected representatives have failed bring these issues to the attention of us the people”.
There will be no economic benefit to the people of Donegal from the discovery of oil and gas reserves off the Donegal coast line. Given the granting of licenses to foreign companies and the arrangements with the Irish government, any gas found off the coast will be sold on the international rather that the domestic market. The reserves will not lead to reduced prices, which is also of huge concern to people given the increasing costs of fuel.
Considering the outrage in the county about our failing health system, our high unemployment and continuing job losses, the awarding of these licenses highlight a fundamentally flawed approach to the development of County Donegal. In terms of employment this exploration will not benefit the county as job creation will be geared towards people who are highly skilled in the field of oil and gas exploration and unfortunately there is a severe lack of these skills in the country.
Another concern highlighted by the group is the fact that landowners in Donegal face the real possibility of compulsory purchase orders in the future once processing of gas commences. For the first time since the founding of the state, compulsory purchase orders were used in Mayo to support the interests of private business. Prior to the Rossport gas project, compulsory purchase orders had only been used for public projects including the building of schools, hospitals and roads. Local campaigners are insisting that Donegal County Council and the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources begin the long overdue and essential process of consultation with the public.
There is a real risk of accidents over the life time of the proposed gas projects. The local lobby group has been in regular contact with the Shell to Sea campaign, studying the international evidence gathered with regard to the safety of gas processing projects. As Amanda Slevin from the group explains ‘To date, we have no details about the type of gas processing which the current exploration projects will lead to, or have been given an indication of when exploration and mining will begin. There is a huge body of international evidence relating to the risks, accidents and death resulting from gas and oil projects around the world, particularly with high pressure gas projects as being proposed in Mayo and which could be the case in Donegal’.
The range of concerns being raised by the group is very wide and include economic and safety concerns, the lack of consultation with local communities and the potential of compulsory purchase orders that could be forced on local landowners. The group is determined to keep these issues on the political agenda and urge anyone worried to attend the public meeting on Wednesday the 11th of October in Jackson’s hotel in Ballybofey at 8pm.
Micheál Cholm Mac Goilla Easbuig on 086 8845476 or email@example.com
Amanda Slevin on 086 3622378 or firstname.lastname@example.org