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Mayo County Council and the Shell Road
Thursday July 10, 2008 16:03 by A
Mayo County Coucil are currently "widening" and strengthen an 8km road from the Bellanaboy refinery to the proposed landfall area in Glengad.
Road widened with Coillte land on the right
Despite Shell having no definitive pipeline route and landfall site permission, Mayo County Council (MCC) is “widening” the road from the refinery to the proposed land-fall site at Shells request. This work has been objected to at every possible opportunity by the community it affects and those who live along the length of it, these efforts include petitions and over 120 signatures on numberous submissions to MCC. Despite this the MCC has pushed forward with this road work, pre-empting any decision of the planning authority / An Bord Pleannala on the pipeline. This comes as no surprise to the people who live here.
MCC have used every trick they have, to push through with the road widening, but a largely united local opposition has stopped them from proceeding further with the road widening endeavour. The road was to be upgraded from the refinery site to the proposed landfall site and not a millimetre further. MCC expected people to give up their road side land for the multinational. Using tactics smacking of intimidation and bullying the council have refused to meet with local concerned groups of affected people or land owners, preferring to attempt to misinform, intimidate individual landowners, despite receiving solicitor’s letters requesting them not to do this.
In one instance the council dug up land without the landowner’s permission and then refused the landowners requests to reinstate the land. Instead they sent a solicitor’s letter threatening him that he would be liable for any accidents that occurred on that stretch of road.
The council’s attitude towards handling the road widening process is illustrated by the fact that they commenced works along the road without having secured permissions to widen substantial sections of it, preferring to attempt to pressurise people into giving up their land as the work continues towards their land, house and homes.
Their ineptitude at handling the road widening construction is evident in the incidents that have occurred during the construction so far. The work being carried out bears little resemblance to the “plans” of the project which were available for public viewing and objections, all of which were ignored. Relevant information to be able to make submissions only emerged after the deadline or had to be extracted with the help of a solicitor.
During part of their excavations alongside the road their work caused a large ground slide, luckily no one was seriously injured or killed. This slide swept 5 electricity poles away and caused power cuts. Further power cuts were experienced this week as the temporary work done to reinstall power was changed for a permanent fix. Further incidents have seen delivery trucks stuck and sinking in the soft bog
Vast amounts of peat are being excavated and the holes filled with stone, mostly Cl 804, fine gravel, not suitable to build up large depths of road, especially in such damp areas and without proper compaction, which is not being carried out.
Peat is being transported along the works to be placed elsewhere. Moving peat in this manner requires a license which we doubt MCC have bothered obtaining.
MCC have also shown scant regard for the streams and water courses even though they were advised on the sensitivity of the area by the North West Regional Fisheries Board (NWRFB) board. In a letter from NWRFB to MCC they stated that “all practicable measures should be taken to prevent soil from entering the watercourse”. One water sample taken from a river that MCC worked on gave a turbidity (how clear the water is) reading of over a thousand times the drinking water level.
The road is being widened considerably where the council can “get away with it”, resulting in serious damage to fields, but more so to native trees growing along the route, hedgerows, plantation trees etc. Direct action by local people has saved more trees from needless and pointless destruction.
The flora and fauna has certainly taking a battering. However when National Parks and Wildlife were contacted they basically said the council can do whatever they want. No EIS was done, with MCC stating that none was needed as the road is not in an SAC, this although the road runs directly parallel to Srawaddacon SPA and at some time running under the bridges.
The traffic management plan is not being adhered to, with MCC attempting to portray the road affected as closed, despite having no permission to do so. In addition traffic is not being adequately directed through the 2 miles or so of currently affected road, being left to weave in and out of construction equipment (large machinery and trucks) in operation.
While Shell may be paying for this road widening, the work is being carried out by a very large section of Mayo Co. Co.’s road works crew, not contractors, with the trucks bringing the stone mainly contracted, as is normal procedure. This means that they are unavailable to do road improvement works in other areas.
Mid West radio have aired a show on the situation regarding the road on the 4th July ’08. On this MCC claimed that 70% of landowners have given permission for road widening, they reach this figure, I assume, by expressing the landowners as a percentage of the road length, and since Coillte own perhaps 60-70% of the land to be widened, the real figure is that around 3 or 4 landowners have consented, plus Coillte. 32 landowners or close residents on the road have signed up to be represented by a solicitor. 80% of the landowners have refused consent or indicated that they would refuse to give consent.
One of the few landowners to give permission to the council is local Shell stooge, Gerry McDonnell who sits as the community representative at the Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) meetings. At PMC meeting on the 13th of Feb 08, Mr McDonnell “expressed the appreciation of the community in regard to proposed road project from Terminal Building to Glengad which the developers are financing. You can read more on Mr McDonnell’s Shell dealings at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/86882
The original road is about 4 metres wide; the finished widening is over 8 metres (+ 3-6 metres of “clearance” at the side).
However it should be noted that the road widening was only sought up to Pollatomais school with the rest of the road to Glengad just being strengthened and resurfaced. This remaining section is already reasonably dangerous for even two cars travelling in opposite directions up Pollatomais hill and will be an accident waiting to happen if the Shell succeed in their plan to have over 200 trucks a day travelling on the road by the start of next year.
Whatever the outcome this road will (and has) become a lot more dangerous for regular local users, and once again shows how their concerns are ignored in the interests of Shell.
Illegal work done that still hasn't been reinstated
Keeping an eye out
Don't worry: MCC claimed they checked for nesting birds first
First victim of the new road