The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources held a meeting this morning with senior executives of Shell Ireland in relation to the dismantling of a section of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo.

Noel Dempsey ordered Shell to dismantle the 1.8km section of high pressure carbon steel pipeline because it had been welded together without the necessary consent during June and July.

A team of Irish and Italian engineers began cutting up the pipe on Monday morning. The work is expected to take between four and five weeks.

A local development group, known as the Pro Erris Gas Group, asked that the work be halted pending the completion of a new safety review of the pipeline which is due to be finalised in December.

It described the cutting up of the pipeline in advance of this review as a potential waste of money and suggested that Shell contribute  €250,000 to community projects in the area as an alternative.

It asked the minister to agree to a temporary suspension of the work.