US firm to reapply for planning for Shannon gas terminal in Kerry

New Fortress Energy has notified stakeholders of its intent to reapply for planning permission for the construction of the Shannon Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in north Kerry.

The US firm’s move comes after a three-year halt in project developments after a decision to extend the 2008 planning was quashed in the High Court in 2019.

It also follows last year’s Programme for Government which ruled out the use of fracked gas and pledged to generate 70% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Public consultation on the plan is due to open this week.

The €650 million project received a beacon of hope earlier this month when An Bord Pleanála gave Shannon LNG permission to apply for planning as a strategic infrastructure project under section 37A of the Planning and Development Act 2006. It means that the development group can apply directly to the board, bypassing the local authority.

The proposed development consists of a Power Plant, a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal with plans to later construct a major Data Centre Campus. The project will occupy 100 acres of the 600 acres site, leaving 350 acres of zoned land for further development.

In a letter seen by RTÉ News, developers say they are currently in talks with Munster Technological University in relation to training opportunities and that they “intend to establish connections with Kerry Education and Training Board in respect to apprenticeship”.

“We have been working on development for this large site and we are now in the final stages of preparing the planning application for the first proposed development,” says Sam Abdalla, Vice President of Project Development.

“The proposed €650 million development would create approximately 70 long-term direct jobs and an average of approximately 270 construction jobs over the three-year construction period,” added Mr Abdalla.

Another senior source said that the terminal will not be dependent on fracked gas and that the energy giant is confident that it can source gas from non-fracked sources and meet energy demand in Ireland.

In 2018, a High Court Case by Friends of the Environment (FIE), was brought on the basis that planning permission should not have been approved where an environmental assessment had not been carried out in special protection areas along the Shannon Estuary since the original planning was acquired in 2008.

FIE says it does not understand how the process of planning could proceed when there has been no review carried out of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas system.

“If permitting an applicant to apply for a €500m fossil fuel terminal is not ‘proceeding’ then I don’t know what is,” FIE Director Tony Lowes said.

Fine Gael Councillor Jim Finucane says that this is the best course of action going forward and that the project will be a catalyst for rejuvenation in Kerry and Limerick.

“Everyone involved in this project is committed to climate change but gas is a transition fuel and the gridwork has been put to the pinnacle with Covid-19,” he says.

“The last thing the country needs is the potential reputation we could develop if we cannot guarantee fuel and energy,” he added.

A Green Party spokesperson said the party and Government has made it clear they do not support the importation of fracked gas and will not support any projects that do so.

A statement said 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.

Source: RTE, Amy Ni Riada, 23 June 2021