Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been asked not to allow the plans for a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary in Kerry to form part of the discussions for the programme for Government with the Greens.
It has emerged a new planning application for what would be the first terminal of its kind in the country is set to be submitted in September by New Fortress Energy, the company now behind the proposal.
The project has become a red line issue for Fine Gael in the region. The Greens are vehemently opposed to it.
The application will go directly to An Bord Pleanála as it meets the terms of a piece of infrastructure of strategic importance for the country’s energy supply.
Last Friday Kerry County Council backed a proposal put forward by the Mayor of Tralee Jim Finucane (FG) that the council “fully endorses and supports the Shannon LNG project". Sinn Fein councillor Robert Beasley seconded the emergency motion which was carried unanimously.
Mr Finucane has also written separately to Leo Varadkar seeking clarification.
This is a private project. It is not looking for State funding. It is an infrastructural project and should not have political interference of any kind. It should not be on the agenda for negotiations. I have asked the Taoiseach’s office to confirm this.
He said nobody is opposed to green energy, but added: “There has to be a phased transition.”
As well as ensuring continuity of supply for business and for homes, the project has enormous potential for the supply of gas directly to towns like Killarney and Tralee, as well as across the region.
In train with fifteen years on a Shannon Properties land bank between Tarbert and Ballylongford, the US company is purchasing the site, it is understood.
The terminal near a deepwater base near Tarbert is to bring in liquefied frozen gas and convert it back into gas and will link to the national gas pipe network at Foynes. It was originally granted planning in 2008, after a lengthy oral hearing, but has since stalled.
As well as the Greens, celebrities such as the singer Cher have recently called for it to be abandoned because of the likelihood it will use gas obtained by fracking.
However it is regarded as a vital project for north Kerry where employment has declined drastically in recent years and it has become a red line issue for Fine Gael representatives in the region.