Charles Stanley-Smith Chair of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland was deeply critical of calls by the ESRI's John FitzGerald for Corrib gas to come on-stream in order to address energy security for Ireland. He indicated that the ESRI's John FitzGerald acknowledged lack of familiarity with the Corrib gas controversy (as stated on an interview this morning on RTE radio's Morning Ireland) was evidenced in the naivety of his 'research' paper's proposition that Corrib Gas would contribute to Ireland's energy security. The ESRI paper propounds that price rises abroad were the most probable supply issue and Corrib gas would supposedly enable Ireland hedge against this!

However, the terms of the contract and licensing arrangements place the Corrib Gas Partners under no obligation to sell this gas to Ireland or specify any price range for the gas. This was clearly thrashed out in one of the first hearings by An Bord Pleanála for the Corrib Gas Infrastructure, under Inspector Kevin Moore. Mr Stanley-Smith said: "In other words, the Licence that the Irish government awarded to Shell does not compel them to sell the Gas to Ireland and sets no maximum price on the gas when they do decide to sell it to Ireland."

The only thing Stanley-Smith says that is certain, is that if the pipeline is developed in contravention of EU environmental law, Irish taxpayers will have to foot the bill for fines amounting to tens of millions of Euro for non-compliance with EU directives. This will be in addition to seeing their resource squandered through the short-sightedness of previous Governments and decisions by the like of former Minister Ray Burke. The end of Europe's leniency with Ireland's bottom of the class track-record1 on compliance and implementation with EU law is a reality and was signalled earlier this year when the Commission applied to the European Court of Justice to initiate the process of fines for specific non-compliance issues.

Mr Stanley-Smith however welcomed John FitzGerald's call for a solution to the Corrib Gas controversy and he stated that An Taisce calls for three major actions to be undertaken by the Irish Government right now, to renegotiate the licence terms -the licence agreement allows changes to 'money terms' in light of changed economic circumstances2; to see Corrib gas harvested correctly in full compliance with the law - so no taxpayer liability is incurred; to ensure future finds are not compromised at the expense of the citizens of this state. Stanley-Smith added that Minister Pat Rabbitte's responses to Dáil questions as recently as April 5th 2011 were disappointing in relation to his lack of focus on the extent of remit the existing Corrib licence allows him to re-stipulate monetary terms and conditions which would be more favourable to the benefit of the Irish citizens3.

The environmental Non-Government charity, An Taisce, is pursuing a Judicial Review in the High Court of An Bord Pleanála's latest permission for the onshore pipeline in January of this year.


For further comment please contact: Charles Stanley-Smith 087 24 11 995