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An anti-fracking protest.

Mixed reaction to Shannon LNG decision

There has been a mixed reaction to the decision by An Bord Pleanála issued its decision to finally reject planning permission for the proposed development of a €650 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) project for the Shannon Estuary between Tarbert and Ballylongford,
This rejection comes after more than 15 years of campaigning by civil society organisations in Ireland and the US. The board based its decision on government policy, which is clear in its opposition to permanent LNG developments. It highlighted the Government’s Policy Statement 2021, which noted that it would not be appropriate to permit the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland pending the completion of the government’s energy security review.
It also noted the independent technical analysis released as part of the Government’s public consultation on energy security 2022. This independent expert analysis was significant in that it rejected a commercial operated LNG facility as an energy security option given it would “likely result in the importation of fracked gas to Ireland…embedded emissions in LNG can exceed that of natural gas….no guarantee that stored gas volumes would be sufficient to cover a security of supply shock”.
The appeals’ board ultimately concluded that the proposed Shannon LNG development is contrary to public policy, proper planning and sustainable development. It also rejected arguments regarding other potential developments at the site given the “clear focus on the use of LNG”.
“This planning refusal is welcome, right, far-reaching and hard-fought. It has been clear from the get-go that a long-lasting commercial LNG terminal would mean polluting gas for decades to come. We are finally seeing the decision-making of state bodies line up with our climate obligations,” said Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy at Friends of the Earth.
“The decision vindicates the tenacity of grassroots campaigners that have opposed LNG from the beginning. Shannon LNG would have posed unacceptable risks to our climate and communities in Kerry and the US. Activists on both sides of the Atlantic have been tireless in their opposition, particularly given the risk that the terminal would allow for importation of polluting fracked gas, a form of fossil fuel that has devastated large parts of the US.”
He said it was important need government departments and state agencies assess fossil fuel projects in accordance with the State’s climate policy.
However, MEP Sean Kelly has expressed his disappointment with this decision, describing it as a “strategic mistake for Ireland”.
“This decision goes against the direction of EU policy, at a time when huge efforts are being made in Europe to boost our energy independence and resilience,” he said.
“Additionally, the development of a Shannon Estuary LNG terminal would have provided a significant economic boost to local communities. This planned investment enjoyed wide support amongst the local community in North Kerry, who are aware of the job opportunities and investment such a plant could bring to the area.”
“As one of the deepest ports in Europe, the Shannon Estuary must be front and centre of Ireland’s Industrial policy. We should consider that, looking forward, ports will be fundamental to the energy transition. We should be investing now in our ports, especially if we are serious about developing offshore wind and green hydrogen production in the future.
“We have been waiting on an energy security review for a number of years, and now the energy security package is supposedly pending. I would like to see a full detailed analysis as to the impact that the decision not to have a Shannon LNG terminal will have on Ireland’s energy security, considering the depletion of the Corrib Gas Field and our over-reliance on the connection to the UK for gas supplies.”

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