The new Government in Dublin has been accused of only having a different name than its predecessor as it gave Shell Ireland the final green light for the controversial Corrib Gas Pipeline.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan granted a foreshore licence for the construction of the last 8km high pressure gas pipeline linking the Corrib oil field off the Mayo coastline to a refinery at Bellanaboy.
Campaigners said they were disappointed but not surprised by the latest decision - made just weeks after a former minister approved the onshore section of the pipeline on his last day in office.
Shell to Sea spokesman Terence Conway said members will do whatever they can to disrupt the project.
“Enda Kenny on getting in to the Dail stated Fine Gael’s job was to clean up the mess and cronyism that went on with Fianna Fail, developers and bankers, but to us it appears they are doing the exact same thing,” he said.
“When this application was submitted several hundred people asked for an oral hearing into the matter and they totally ignored it.
“It seems to us the only difference in the new and old Government is the change of name.”
Last summer Shell applied for the foreshore licence to construct a pipeline from Glen gad through Swaddling estuary, a special area of conservation (SAC). It included a 4.6km-long concrete underwater tunnel.
Mr Hogan said he granted the licence, with conditions, having regard to submissions received during the public consultation, from prescribed bodies, from the Marine Licence Vetting Committee (MLVC), and on the advice of his department.
Shell welcomed the decision, adding that five wells at the Corrib field and the offshore pipeline were already in place while the terminal in Bellanaboy close to completion.
The Corrib natural gas field was first discovered in 1996. Six years later Shell Ireland was granted consent to construct an 83km pipeline from the gas field to a processing terminal at Bellanaboy.
Mr Conway warned defiant residents and campaigners have vowed to step up their protest as soon as the next work starts and are considering taking legal action.
“They can throw what they like at us as regards forces of the state, with gardai and navy, and their own security, but we will do whatever we can to disrupt their work,” he added.
An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, is already trying to take High Court proceeding against a decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission for the onshore section of the gas pipeline in January.