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Monday, October 16, 2006

Nimby Syndrome in Mayo as CAP cheques are put in post for Rossport Gas Protesters


We all want to have our cake and eat it. Modern life would come to a standstill if the legions of Nimbies (NIMBY - not in my backyard) got their way.

The problem in recent times is that the cocktail of interests that are usually present in NIMBY cases - self-interest, ignorance and stupidity combined with media interest - has resulted in a situation, where members of the public who are not from the area of focus at a particular time, have great difficulty in developing an informed opinion on a specific case.

Residents in North Dublin don't want a prison and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell who wants it, opposes an incinerator in his constituency in South Dublin. Environment Minister Dick Roche doesn't want a big dump in his Wicklow constituency but it's fine to site it just north of Wicklow in Dublin. In Cork, where there are many pharma operations, people don't want an incinerator but it's OK to ship the waste to India. There's also an issue about electricity wires.

I remember marvelling at the sight of members of the voluntary muttawa - Committee for Preventing Vice and Promoting virtue - in Jeddah, alighting from a large American air-conditioned SUV to hassle women for not covering their heads. I would have had some respect for them if they had dismounted from camels as there would be have been some consistency in their endeavours.

I thought of the muttawa, when mobile phone users protested in County Galway about plans to put a mobile phone mast on a Radio na Gaeltachta transmitter that had been there for several decades. For all they knew, the radio signals from the main mast may have been potentially more damaging.

So what are we to make of the opposition in Mayo to the piping ashore of gas to an onshore terminal?

There is again the political self-interest present, as independent T.D. Dr. Gerry Cowley has seen an opportunity of jumping on a passing bandwagon. Another local T.D. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, has resisted such pressure.

Keeping the issue of the very generous 1989 exploration license terms separate, the issue of safety is present in many situations.

How many encounter full petrol tankers on the roads everyday? I saw somewhere recently that 40% of our electricity generation depends on gas piped from Scotland. Kinsale gas was piped from near Kinsale on the south coast to Dublin but if it had to be put miles from every house, how practical would it have been to build a pipeline?

Safety of course should be paramount in the Corrib project situation, but is delivery of gas into your home any more dangerous than having a pipeline near it?

Some of the farmers were apparently unhappy with the money on offer from Shell for transit through their lands.

Some German and Dutch workers who fund the Common Agricultural Policy that has resulted in cheques being put in the post today for farmers in Rossport and elsewhere, live in cities where there is seldom much choice for the lower-paid as to the proximity to danger such as port terminals and so on.

It's reported that local businesses in the Rossport area, are getting visits from protest organisers with requests to refuse to provide goods or services to the project. The intimidation could not be compared with what existed in the North but anyone from rural Ireland and in particular Mayo where the infamous Captain Boycott had lived, knows that the business folk haven't exactly a democratic choice.

The campaign of ostracisation of Boycott in 1880 is said to have become a cause célèbre in the British press, with newspapers sending correspondents to the West of Ireland to highlight what they viewed as the victimisation of a servant of a peer of the realm by Irish peasants.

The peasants are no more thanks to the European Union and US investment. It's not clear what the exact cocktail of motives are, that are feeding the present campaign. The issue of safety has been addressed following the acceptance by the Government of the advice of international experts.

The protesters no longer have to worry about emigration, the CAP cheque is in the post and meantime, who takes risks to supply them with electricity, even gas from Scotland and other modern contraptions such as mobile phones?

4 Comments:

  • "Shell hoped to turn their experience of Sakhalin-2 into a learning opportunity and in future to work with progressive partners to assess the impact of their work on the environment and local communities" the company’s charity arm told UK ministers.

    The Sakhalin-2, I'm guessing, was just full of Nimby-like protesters.

    Shell thinks it was a roaring success environmentally, as well as any other way. Not so according to the hippies at the WWF, other such groups, and err… the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Hippies.

    Of course, in north Mayo the protest is over a normal gas pipeline. There’s no chance of it being an unusually high pressure pipe that will transport ‘dirty’ or untreated gas. We don't need any of this context.

    Shell says they won’t use the full presser, and their brilliant really history helps trust in this matter.

    There’s no chance Shell is so unwilling to go off shore because they have other long term plans for the gas refinery site, let’s take a wild guess jump at the conclusion that there’s a wee bit of oil off the coast. I'm not saying this will happen, but your post was going from one thing to another wildly too.

    By Anonymous Cian, at October 20, 2006 2:23 PM  

  • A number of the Protestors are not Farmers. Also, the gas is untreated while passing by these peoples houses on its way to the Refinery, so your comparison to the Kinsale Gas being piped to Dublin is both Invalid and Poorly researched, as is the rest of your article, clearly. Are you really the founder of this website?.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 13, 2006 11:09 PM  

  • I accept that there are more than farmers involved in the protest.

    My problem about what I term Nimby protests, is that generally people want to have their cake and eat it.

    If people want to live a simple pastoral life, that's fine.

    For protesters who drive, think of all the potential risks that are involved in for example in bringing petrol to Rossport.

    By Blogger Michael Hennigan, at November 14, 2006 6:31 PM  

  • I don't think you really understand the issues going on. People aren't necessarily against the Gas being brought ashore, they don't want untreated gas being brought ashore. Building a refinery at sea is well within Shell's capabilities (Financial and technical) however the cheaper option is to build inland. This is what people are protesting against, and for Shell (one of the worlds most profitable companies last year) to raise financial concerns when the resource is being handed to them for Free is a bit much.

    As regards Bringing Petrol to Rossport, trust me, there's not that much being brought. I suggest you at least visit the area to see what going on there and also the vast de-forestation that has taken place as a result of this construction effort.

    Given Ray Burke's involvement in the process as well as the rather dubious planning process employed, you can perhaps begin to realise why these people have some concerns. Also, given that there was no issue in shipping in 150 Gardai to assist when you never see one around the area normally if and when crime does occur rings a bit hollow with some of the locals, particularly in an area that has seen little of no interest from this or any previous Government.
    It's all very well demanding the gas be brought ashore at the cost of "simple pastoral life" - it's fine if you're not the one who's life is being disrupted.
    It's not just the people of Erris who would like to have their cake and it now is it?.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 20, 2006 1:12 PM  

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