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Shell to fund Mayo water well

The Irish Times – Saturday, October 23, 2010

LORNA SIGGINS, Western Correspondent, and TOM SHIEL

SHELL E&P Ireland is to fund drilling of a new production well, but for water, not gas, and in the north Mayo village of Rossport.

The multinational says it is giving €750,000 towards upgrading the village’s water network as a “gesture of goodwill to the Rossport community, which has experienced particular difficulties as a result of the Corrib gas project”.

The money will pay for a new water well, replacement of the distribution network with new piping, reservoir, three-phase electricity and installation of consumer and district metering, the company said yesterday. Rossport group water scheme co-op chairman Tony Corduff said the co-op approached Shell for funding after it was refused by Mayo County Council. An offer by the company to upgrade the 35-year-old scheme was accepted by a majority of the community at a meeting on April 29th, he said.

However, Rossport resident and Pobal Chill Chomáin community group chairman Vincent McGrath, who was jailed in 2005 over opposition to the gas project, has questioned the need for refurbishment.

“We have a perfectly good . . . water scheme, and we had no indication that there were any problems with it,” he said. “If funding was required and Mayo County Council refused, we need to know full details.”

Acknowledging it would be “difficult for many residents to be seen to oppose a goodwill gesture”, Mr McGrath said that such funding would be “divisive” and was “not going to win consent for the project, when the community’s health and safety remains our primary concern”.

Local objections filed with An Bord Pleanála over a new pipeline route – including one submission representing 300 residents on both sides of the route through Sruwaddacon estuary – illustrated that more residents than ever were concerned about the project’s methodology and impact, Mr McGrath said.

“We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile and widely beneficial project in the Rossport community,” Shell EP Ireland Mayo area manager Mark Carrigy said yesterday.

The group water scheme was constructed in 1975 and serves 153 people in Rossport, Shell EP said. “While it has served the community well . . . in recent years leakages have become more commonplace due to the general condition of the group water scheme infrastructure”, it added.

The council was unavailable for comment.

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