26 April 2007 Edition
Shell to Sea : Oil company drops injunction
Rossport 5 man wins international environment award
There was some good news for the Rossport Campaign in the past week, although Shell’s scheme to remove all of the surface peat from the Bellinaboy refinery site, and the brutal suppression of protests by Gardaí are continuing every day.
Last Wednesday, Shell finally dropped its injunction against the Rossport 5, and on Sunday one of the 5, Willie Corduff, was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environment Prize in San Francisco.
The High Court judgement means that Shell have now abandoned their compulsory orders which allowed them access to the land around Rossport, and means that their case against the Rossport 5 is now formally ended.
The five men had actually tried to stop the company from ending the case, since they wanted all the legal arguments – for which they suffered a summer in Cloverhill prison – to be resolved. Many suspected that Shell wanted to walk away from the case because they were fearful of the inside story of the company’s dealings with the Department of Marine to be exposed in court. Last Wednesday, Justice Mary Laffoy allowed the company to drop the injunction, but insisted that there are still matters of “public law” to be considered. This is a big victory for the Shell to Sea campaign, and has the happy consequence that Shell are liable for most of the costs associated with the case – estimated to be around €1 million.
The Goldman Prize has been awarded to grassroots environmental activists from around the world since 1990. Although the rest of the Rossport Five were nominated, since only individuals are allowed to win the prize, Willie Corduff was chosen by the judges. The $125,000 prize is the largest of its kind in the world and is often referred to as “the Nobel Prize for the environment”. Prize winners participate in a 10-day tour of San Francisco and Washington, including news conferences, award ceremonies, media briefings and meetings with political and environmental leaders.
Despite these two successes, the campaign is facing a serious problem in that Shell is refusing to consider any alternative to its scheme to install the huge gas refinery at Bellinaboy and link it to the Corrib gas field by a high pressure pipeline. Protesters at the refinery site have been subject to brutal treatment by the huge force of Gardaí stationed there. Every week Shell contractors Iggy Madden Transport are removing thousands of tons of the surface peat by lorry. Protests are continuing.