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10 May 2001 Edition

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Short reprieve for Mayo

Enterprise Energy Ireland (EEI) has submitted a new planning application for its proposed gas terminal and cleaning station for North West Mayo, because as Minister of Marine, Frank Fahey says, ``We weren't happy with the first environmental impact statement.''

Was this a victory for campaigners who have pointed to the huge environmental costs to their area of EEI's plans to build the pipeline and cleaning station at Ballinaboy? ``It's more likely that it was simply a victory for realism,'' says Sinn Féin's Vincent Wood. ``EEI's original plan to shift thousands of tons of peat bog, was ill conceived and unrealistic. Locals pointed out that it just couldn't be done.

``Now EEI proposes to shift the cleaning station 500 yards away to where the bog land is shallower. We have yet to see their new Environmental Impact Study and assess whether it successfully deals with the grave issues local people have raised.''

At the end of April, Minister Fahey made a commitment to review the tax breaks for oil and gas exploration which were drawn up in 1992 by then Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke. People were outraged at the terms which amounted to the sell out of our national interests in the oil and gas reserves off the West Coast, says Wood, but the Irish Offshore Operators' Association claim that the minister cannot renegotiate existing licences.
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