The Department of the Environment says it will "make its views known" that a proposal to build a €650 million liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Shannon Estuary is inappropriate.
Shannon LNG Ltd, a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy Inc, a New York-based global energy infrastructure company, has erected a site notice at its 600-acre landbank located between Ballylongford and Tarbert in Co. Kerry and says that it intends to lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála for the first phase of development at its Shannon Technology & Energy Park.
The company has been in discussions with An Bord Pleanala since 2019 on the site, which the board has determined would constitute a strategic infrastructure development. This means that the application will go directly to An Bord Pleanala.
The proposed development comprises a 600MW Power Plant and a Terminal that will import LNG, which is natural gas that has been cooled to approximately -160°C to reduce its volume and facilitate shipping. However, the Government has since May had an official policy against the importation or construction of LNG facilities in Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Department said that when the Shannon application is lodged, it will make clear that it is against the move.
"The Policy Statement on the Importation of Fracked Gas, published on the May 18 this year, was notified to An Bord Pleanala following its approval by Government.
"Section 34 of the Planning & Development Act requires An Bord Pleanala (or any planning authority) to consider the proper planning and sustainable development of an area with regard being relevant to Government policies.
"If a planning application is lodged the Department will make its views known, which in this case will be to re-iterate government policy, that LNG terminals should not be permitted or proceeded with pending the outcome of the review, as stated above."
The planning application will also be opposed by the Green Party, which fought for the Shannon plan to be abandoned in the Programme for Government, which subsequently contained a paragraph which reads: "As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it make sense to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas. Accordingly, we shall withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common Interest list in 2021."
A Green Party spokesperson said: "The Green Party does not support the importation of fracked gas and will not support any projects that import fracked gas.
"The policy statement announced by the Minister for Climate, Environment and Communications, Eamon Ryan and approved by Government in May of this year, also makes it crystal clear that it would not be appropriate to permit or proceed with the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland, including the Shannon LNG project, pending the review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems."
Deputy Bríd Smith of People Before Profit, meanwhile, expressed alarm at the application.
"It would be alarming if this LNG terminal is given permission to go ahead and it will fly in the face of Government policy.
"And given recent catastrophic climate events across the globe it would be wholly inappropriate for the Government and in particular the Green Party Minister, Eamon Ryan, to stand over the introduction of LNG terminals into this country."