€500m electricity plant gets go-ahead

A MAJOR hurdle has been cleared in a proposal to build a €500 million gas- powered electricity plant on the Shannon Estuary.

Spanish energy giant Endesa has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála to start work on phase one of the generating plant in Tarbert, Co Kerry.

Upwards of 800 workers will be employed during a four-year construction period and 38 highly-skilled jobs will be created when the plant comes into operation, according to Endesa.

The planning decision had been delayed on a number of occasions as An Bord Pleanála sought additional information from Endesa.

Construction — on the site of the former ESB oil-fired generating plant at Tarbert Island — will be in two phases.

Upwards of 300 construction jobs are expected to be created in phase one, which is due to be in commercial operation by the end of 2012.

Work on phase two is due to start in the first quarter of 2014, providing employment for a maximum of 500 construction workers.

The existing power plant, which has stood on the site since the late 1960s is to be demolished.

Kerry County Council and Tarbert Development Association supported the planning application, but objections were submitted by the Safety Before LNG (liquefied natural gas) group and An Taisce.

The north Kerry-based group called for a strategic environmental assessment to be carried out into the proposed Shannon LNG terminal, which would supply Endesa with gas, before the Endesa proposal was allowed to proceed.

The group also claimed the new power station and the LNG terminal could sterilise the entire Shannon Estuary for future development.

An oral planning hearing into Endesa’s application, held in Listowel, last April, was told Endesa aimed to become a new competitive player in the Irish electricity market, developing existing sites with cleaner technologies.

The company — which has operations in 10 countries and employs 27,000 people — purchased old power stations from the ESB, in Kerry, Wexford, Offaly, Longford and Mayo in 2008.

The Department of the Environment, meanwhile, has confirmed foreshore licences for the development of the Shannon LNG terminal have been approved, enabling critical works to proceed.

Foreshore works will include a 345-metre jetty, up to four storage tanks, pumps and a regasification system.

The facility will allow for the importation of gas by ship, transfer and storage of gas on land and the regasification of liquefied natural gas for export from the site via the Bord Gáis Éireann gas network.

The jetty will be used for mooring and offloading gas from one ship at a time.

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