First segments eventually delivered to tunnelling compound,11 segments to come
On Thursday night Shell’s efforts to move parts of a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) critical to the Corrib gas project hit another delay as protesters blocked the main gate of the refinery site with a concrete lock-on.
Two protesters from the Rossport Solidarity Camp locked themselves into a 400kg reinforced concrete barrel from 7.30pm until the Garda protest removal team finished cutting them out at about midnight. By this stage about 20 people had gathered at the gates in support, but this was out-numbered by a force of about 50 to 60 Gardaí which was clearly already planned to mobilise to move the TBM.
For the hour or two before the Gardai cordoned off the area around the lock-on, campaigners chatted drinking tea and eating scones. It was satisfying to hear that as the lock on was being set up at Shell’s main refinery gate, Gardaí were searching the ditches on the Aughoose road (where most of the recent lock-ons have happened).
After the lock-on had been dealt with the Gardaí swept up its remains to clear the way for the TBM parts, then proceeded to clear the section of road outside the refinery with the usual lawless pushing and shoving. After a delay of over 2 months since the first delivery was attempted, Shell and the Gardaí finally managed to deliver some of the TBM parts to the Aughoose tunnelling compound two miles away.
The two lock-on protesters were released from Belmullet Garda station at about 4am this morning each charged with sections 8&9 (obstruction and refusing to obey the directions of a Garda when suspected of committing a crime) of the public order act, and join 5 more campaigners due to appear in court in Belmullet on November 14th.
In a recent letter to local residents Shell have said that they intend to start tunnelling in the coming weeks, but it is thought that there are still 11 sections of the TBM yet to be delivered before they can begin. There are signs that delays will continue – without any help yet another lorry delivering TBM parts went off road earlier in the week outside Bangor – after making its delivery however.
After a lie in today we headed down to remove the windmill – last vestige of the summer camp 2012. The previous week had been a massive moving effort to clear out the field and pack the camp infrastructure away for the winter. The house up the hill at Barr na Coilleadh Pullathomas is now the main camp base again for the winter. Come visit and check out the view for yourself!
See rossportsolidaritycamp.org for info about staying at the camp,
email rossportsolidaritycamp[at]gmail[dot]com or
ring 085 1141170 to let us know you’re coming or for other info.