I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 377 together.
In so far as my Department is concerned all necessary consents and approvals have been given for the development of the Corrib Gas Field. With these in place it is now up to the developer to proceed with the development of the field. Certain development works have commenced and are ongoing.
On foot of the recommendation of the Corrib mediator, Mr. Peter Cassells, the developer, Shell, has committed itself to modifying the route of the onshore pipeline. RPS consultants have been appointed by Shell to manage this process. I understand that public consultation is now under way to help choose the optimum route.
Progress on the development works will be the principal factor that will determine when the gas will come ashore. I understand that the developers anticipate first gas in late 2009. The transmission and distribution of gas throughout Ireland including throughout the western region, is a matter for the gas supply industry; I am aware that Bord Gáis Éireann has announced that it will be piping gas to several towns in the West and North West.
The Corrib field, when it is developed, will bring significant volumes of gas into the Irish system, which will reduce our dependence on imports and will enhance the security of our energy supply into the future. Having regard to the uncertainty relating to future oil and gas supplies, this project is of vital national importance. Delivery of Corrib gas also has the potential to bring significant benefits to North West Mayo and the region as a whole.