Council confident Kerry’s €500m gas pipeline will go ahead

HOPES were voiced yesterday that there would be no further delays in going ahead with a €500 million natural gas-fired energy project in Tarbert, Co Kerry.

Members of Kerry County Council unanimously endorsed plans by Endesa Ireland Ltd to build an electricity generating plant on the site of an old ESB oil-fired plant on Tarbert Island.

Shannon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has already been given the green light to lay a 26km pipeline which will connect the Endesa plant to the national gas grid, west of Foynes, Co Limerick. The pipeline will be bringing natural gas to Co Kerry for the first time.

Endesa, the leading Spanish electricity company, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for planning permission for the power plant and a decision is expected in late June.

Under the Planning Act, Kerry County Council has a consultative role and is required to make a submission to An Bord Pleanála on the effects of the development on the environment and development of the area.

In a detailed report to yesterday’s meeting, council director of planning Michael McMahon said the 450MW plant would be erected in two phases and would involve the replacement of the ESB generating station which had been on the site since 1968.

Work on the first phase was due to start towards the end of 2012 and on the second phase in January 2016, he added.

Upwards of 300 construction workers would be employed in the first phase and a maximum of 500 during phase two.

Mr McMahon said Endesa would be replacing the existing plant with more efficient, environmentally-friendly generators.

The council was satisfied emissions from the plant would not cause pollution, he pointed out.

Locally-based Fine Gael councillor Liam Purtill, proposing that the council fully support the project, said a traffic management plan should be in place before work commenced. He also supported calls from Tarbert Development Association for an upgrading of water and sewerage schemes in the area to cater for an increase in population.

Sinn Féin councillor Robert Beasley said selfish objections should not be allowed hold up the project any longer, a sentiment echoed by Fianna Fáil councillor John Brassil.

Mr Brassil also felt development levies being proposed by the council were extremely low and he proposed an annual €5,000 contribution by Endesa to the community.

Other councilors favoured one gas line instead of two.

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