The week ending 31st August saw Rossport Solidarity camp reborn and the week of action against offshore pipeline work extended.
The week of action was called in anticipation of the arrival of the world’s largest pipeline ship, the Solitaire. However, due to bad weather conditions the ship’s arrival was delayed. Nonetheless, actions took place throughout the week against preparatory pipeline work, including disruption of dredging work designed to create the trench for the pipe, site invasions into Shell’s compound, and a visit by Shell to Sea kayakers to the Solitaire.
Friday the 29th of August saw better weather conditions and the arrival of the winching rig and cable and the return of the dredging machine into the bay.
The Navy also arrived (the first time the Navy has ever been used in an operation against a civil demonstration).
If the good weather holds, Shell will attempt to complete the near shore part of the pipeline in the next few days.
Believed to be booked up for the next 2 years, the Solitaire has a very short time frame to complete its part in the pipeline construction. Resistance now is crucial and the Rossport community have made a call out for people to come to the area to support the campaign. Check out feature additions and comments for regular updates.
The rest of the article outlines some of the recent history of the campaign...
As has come to be expected, Shell’s latest work has been facilitated through intimidation, violence and political corruption.
At the end of last month, a joint team of 40 Gardai and 70 Shell specialist security moved onto Glengad beach to enable the construction of a causeway and the erection of 10ft high steel fencing half a mile long, cordoning off the area.
No notice was given and Shell fails to mention its occupation of the public beach in its publicity material.
Working together, the Gardai and security forcibly removed around 30 local people who attempted to stop work.
Another day, 13 people were arrested for trespass on the beach, one of whom was seriously injured and hospitalized for over a week after being injured in Garda custody.
While this once pristine bay was ravaged by Shell’s activity, local people also witnessed pods of dolphins forced out of the bay by Shell speed boats.
Initially it appeared that the work was illegal as consents for pipeline work at Glengad had not been granted. It later emerged that the authorizations had been given, but the government had failed to publicize them.
Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan claimed that the failure to publicize the consents had been an “oversight”.
“Oversights” such as this characterize the politics of the project and are exactly what the Green party minister was so critical of in opposition.
This key section of the pipeline was granted permission outside of the usual planning process. Eamon Ryan used the Gas Act to exempt what is arguably the most dangerous part of the whole project. The 200 metres exempted section will be subject to the pipeline’s highest pressures (potentially up to 345 bar, the highest pipeline pressure in a residential area anywhere in the world) and runs from the landfall at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain.
The original landfall permission was awarded in 2002 before the devastating 2003 landslide that saw 200,000 cubic meters of debris washed off Dooncarton, destroying houses, bridges and roads. In spite of the obvious dangers, no review of the permission has taken place since this time.
Pipeline work is ongoing despite the fact that planning permission for the remainder of the modified onshore pipeline route has not yet been granted.
The proposed onshore route runs 9km through protected blanket bog habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Specially Protected Areas (protected habitats under the EU habitats directive), commonage and farmland.
Since the occupation of Glengad beach by Shell in late July, the company’s bright yellow security army are a constant source of intimidation in the Broadhaven Bay area.
The unidentified security (often wearing balaclavas), use video cameras and binoculars to monitor anyone on, or near, the public beach, including children.
The company hired by Shell is headed by a former member of the elite Irish Rangers Unit and while the company claim that current members of the defense force are not part of the operation, it is known that other former military personal have been hired.
Meanwhile, Shell has used its usual tactics of divide and rule and bribery to silence resistance from local fishers to the project, overcoming what the company views as one of the final hurdles preventing the Solitaire beginning work in the bay.
The local fishers universally expressed concerns over the location of the discharge pipe and its outfall diffuser (certain to pollute both Broadhaven Bay and inshore waters) and disruption to their work during the laying of the offshore pipeline.
However, last week, after long negotiations, a significant number of fishers have agreed to keep quiet in return for compensation. Others however, remain resolute in their opposition. Fisherman Pat O Donnell stated, “I believe the health of the marine environment for future generations is more important than short term compensation”
He says that himself and the other fishers who refused to accept Shell’s bribe will continue to fish in the path of the Solitaire.
Meanwhile, on Saturday the 16th of August, the week of action was kick started by a crew of boat activists, fresh from the Climate Camp’s Rebel Regatta, reclaiming Glengad beach.
Occurring on the day the Solitaire was originally due to arrive in the area, this was the first in a series of actions aiming to stop pipeline work.
And its not just the locals and rebel boaters who are refusing to bow to the might of Shell, the ocean is also fighting back. Dredging operations for the offshore pipeline have seen several boats in difficulties, marooned on rocks in the choppy waters of Broadhaven Bay and in need of emergency repairs. So, with a call out for action, dissident fishermen and turbulent waters there is reason to believe the Solitaire won’t be in for an easy ride…
IMC Features + Rossport Solidarity Camp
All arrested yesterday were released without charge and at present its unclear if the Gardai even had the right to detain anybody...
Sail and Rail aprox £35 from anywhere in UK to Ballina (nearest town with train station to Rossport)
Phase 2 involves the continuation of the trench from Phase 1 through the High Water Mark and eastwards via a cutting through the cliff-face at Glengad, using conventional land based excavators and rock breakers; and the installation of a pull-in winch for the initiation of pipe pulling from the offshore vessel. The winch wire will be pulled from the seaward end of the trench referenced in Phase 1 to shore from a barge.
The winch cable is sitting on a barge which will come to Broadhaven Bay. Another boat will pull that cable from the barge to the shore where it will be wound around another winch in the Shell ‘Security Zone’ onshore. The cable will lie in the water and be anchored at the point where the Solitaire will come to and start to weld and drop pipe from its stern. A hook on the cable will be attached to the pipe and the onshore winch will pull it shore and fix it at the ‘landfall’.
The early stages of preparation and construction are stoppable and they are as follows:
1) The dredging and digging of a channel for the pipeline.
2) The fixing of a cable from 1200 metres out to the winch onshore.
3) The arrival of the Solitaire which wants to construct pipe for that winch to pull into shore.
If the Solitaire succeeds in the early stages of pipeline construction and the winch pulls it to shore, then the Solitaire will continue welding and laying pipe from that point and continue out to sea to the well-head at the Corrib Gas Field. Once the Solitaire starts to move away, it will be very difficult for us to stop it.
So, once again: THE TIME IS NOW!