Planning Inspector Martin Nolan commenced the hearing on May 19 and sat for 19 sessions before concluding on June 24. He was assisted through the process by Nigel Wright on pipeline safety issues, Conor O’Donnell on geotechnical matters and Stephen O’Sullivan on planning issues.
A total of 17 expert witnesses gave evidence to the hearing on behalf of Shell, including representatives of RPS, the independent consultants who, after a lengthy consultation process, proposed the route under consideration. The subjects addressed by the various experts ranged from pipeline design and safety to micro-tunnelling techniques and noise impacts of the pipeline.
Following this, prescribed bodies, designated by An Bord Pleanála, were invited to make oral submissions. Among those to make submissions were the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mayo County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Services. These were then cross-examined by An Bord Pleanála, SEPIL and third party observers.
A number of third party observers also made oral submissions, including bodies such as Chambers Ireland and IBEC West and community groups Pobal le Chéile and Pobal Chill Chomáin. There were also a number of individual submissions.
The Inspector and his team will now consider all the evidence and prepare a report for the Board, which will then issue its judgement. This process is expected to take a number of months.