Shell survey 'loaded'

Mayo residents say they were 'hung up' on during a phone survey after expressing opposition to the Shell pipeline in Rossport. By Frank Connolly

Supporters of the Shell to Sea campaign in County Mayo have complained about the methods employed in a telephone survey of attitudes to the proposed Corrib gas company by market research company Millward Brown IMS.

Although the market research company refused to confirm the identity of its clients, Village has learned that Shell E&P commissioned the poll in which up to 300 people in County Mayo, including the Erris peninsula where the pipeline comes ashore, were questioned in the first week of September.

Respondents were called at their homes and asked about their views on the pipleline and whether its promoters, Shell E&P, had taken their concerns into account.

Those who agreed to take part were also asked whether they agreed in principle that the gas should be brought ashore and whether, if the gas cannot be processed at sea, it should be brought to the terminal at Bellanaboy or left under the sea.

They were also asked whether they were aware of the publication of a report by mediator Peter Cassells, and the fact that Shell had accepted the recommendations of the report, including the re-routing of the pipeline.

"Since the release of the Rossport Five, to what extent do you believe that Shell has made an effort to listen to the concerns of the local community?", the respondents were asked. A list of responses from good to poor effort was provided.

A number of those contacted have claimed to Village that the surveyors refused to confirm which company had commissioned the research, and hung up the phone if any opposition to the pipeline was expressed.

"They asked me first what did I think of the Corrib gas pipeline and when I said 'it is a complete disaster', there was silence straight away and the line went dead," said Erris resident, Michael Curley.

Another resident, Mary Corduff, who is married to Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport Five, said that the surveyor first asked her whether there was a male in the house who could take part in the survey.

"I said no. Then she asked me to take the questions, which I felt were heavily loaded in Shell's favour. They asked did I think that Ireland's gas reserves would be be exhausted very soon. When I asked who commissioned the survey, she refused to tell me," Mary Corduff told Village.

A spokesperson for Millward Brown IMS said the identity of their client was a confidential matter. She added that all surveys carried out by the company are fair and professionally administered.