Oral hearing begins on Shell gas refinery

Date released: Apr 13 2007

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today began an oral hearing in Mayo.  The oral hearing has been convened by the EPA to listen to objections and concerns about its Proposed Decision to licence Shell E&P Ireland Limited to develop a gas refinery and combustion plant at Bellanaboy Bridge, County Mayo.

If approved, the proposed decision provides for the processing of 9.9 million cubic metres of natural gas per day that will be exported to the Bord Gais Eireann (BGE) distribution network.

Anyone who lodged a valid objection has an automatic right to attend and to participate fully at the hearing.  13 valid objections were made to the proposed decision, including one from the applicant. The hearing is open to the public.

Following the Oral Hearing, a report and recommendation will be submitted to the EPA Board and a final decision on whether or not to grant a licence will be made.

As the statutory licensing process is a quasi judicial function, the EPA is therefore not in a position to comment on the specifics of the licence application or its consideration by the EPA.

The Proposed Decision for the Bellanaboy Bridge facility can be accessed on the EPA web site at http://www.epa.ie/Licensing/IPPCLicensing/ShellProposedDecision/ .

Note to Editors:
1. How the licensing process works:
· Given the complexity and scale of some IPPC activities, the EPA provides pre-application clarification and consultation so that applications are as complete as possible.
· Once received, the application is rigorously assessed by a team of experts from the EPA’s Office of Licensing and Guidance.
· Extra information may be required from the applicant during this assessment.
· When the application is deemed complete, and has been fully assessed, the EPA’s Office of Licensing and Guidance makes a recommendation on the application to the Board of Directors of the EPA.
· The Board assesses the recommendation, together with the application and all submissions, before making a decision.
· The Board’s decision, in the form of a Proposed Decision (PD), is notified to the applicant, all third parties who made a submission on the application and other statutory consultees as well as being published on the EPA website.
· There follows a 28-day period when any person can submit an objection and request an oral hearing.  The objectors can also make submissions on other objections.
· All objections and submissions on objections are considered by a Technical Committee of the EPA, or through an oral hearing process.
· Any person who lodged a valid objection, as well as the applicant, and the local authority (where relevant) have an automatic right to attend and participate fully at a hearing.  All hearings are open to the public.  Members of the public can participate in the proceedings where they have lodged a valid objection or with the express approval of the Chairperson. 
· On completion of an oral hearing, the Chairperson will submit a report of the hearing to the EPA.  In this report, the Chairperson must make a recommendation to grant or refuse a licence.  Where the recommendation is to grant a licence, the Chairperson must outline the recommended conditions to be attached to the licence.
· The recommendations arising, together with the objections and submissions, are considered by the Board of Directors before making a final decision to either refuse a licence or to grant a licence with or without conditions.
· The EPA is debarred in law from granting an IPPC licence unless it is satisfied that the activity concerned, carried out in accordance with such conditions as may be attached to a licence, will not cause environmental pollution.

2. Chronology of application
Applicant     Shell E&P Ireland Limited
Address of facility   Bellanaboy Bridge, Co Mayo
Application received    8th December 2004
Submissions  A total of  35 submissions were received from third parties.
Proposed decision issued  26th January 2007
Closing date for objections  21st February 2007
Objections received   13 valid objections
Oral hearing Start date 16th April 2007, Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Belmullet, Co Mayo.