AMID growing concerns about the delays in moving ahead with a €500 million project on the Shannon estuary, senior government figures have been asked to get involved.
A foreshore licence has not yet been issued for the Shannon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, though the project was announced four years ago.
The terminal is due to be built in Tarbert, Co Kerry, creating over 350 jobs during construction and 50 permanent jobs on completion.
The chief state solicitor’s office has invited solicitors from Shannon LNG to discuss the foreshore licence, arising from a request by Listowel Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan for the issue to be debated through an emergency motion in the Seanad.
Mr O’Sullivan said he was satisfied the matter was now being dealt with by senior government figures.
A draft license was issued last July, and returned to the Department of the Environment with a range of amendments proposed by Shannon LNG.
The full foreshore licence is now under examination by the chief state solicitor’s office following the submission of these amendments.
But there are concerns the delay in issuing the licence is slowing down the start of work on the terminal.
John Fox, spokesman for Tarbert Development Association, called for the appointment of a project manager at government level to drive the project forward.
“We need someone in charge of this plan and who will see it through whatever quagmire there is in the political or bureaucratic fields – someone we would have contact with and from whom we could find out the state of play,” he said.
“People in north Kerry, which is being badly hit by unemployment, are looking forward to the start of work on the terminal and the jobs it will create.”
Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris said the Department of the Environment confirmed, last April, it had given preliminary approval for a foreshore licence, the application for which had been made two years prior to that.
He also said the project had been held up for a number of years by objections, despite the fact that it was one of the first projects to be fast-tracked under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act.
Mr Ferris pointed out it was the subject of two oral hearings by An Bord Pleanála, both resulting in decisions to give the project the go-ahead.
“There is great concern about the delay regarding the foreshore licence.
“We understand it is due to legal details concerning the licence. We were told in April of this year that it would only take a few weeks to rectify the matter.”
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