17th February 2009: Decision by An Bord Pleanála
on Section 5 referral on whether Project-splitting changes to the
Shannon LNG project at Tarbert, County Kerry granted permission under
PA0002 constitute work on the original project which is or is not
development and is or is not exempted development.
On February 17th 2009, An Bord Pleanála deemed project-splitting to be
legally acceptable in Ireland, even though this is contrary to the EU
EIA Directive. Since this decision the EU Commission has found
that a Strategic Environmental Assessment should have been
undertaken of the Shannon LNG project. ( Click here to view the EU Decision on the SEA )
In its decision by An Bord Pleanála to invalidate the referral it stated:
essential argument put forward by the referrers, under Section 5, is
that, by having two separate planning applications, the applicants for
the development (Shannon LNG Ltd) have engaged in "project splitting",
by separating the two components of what is an overall scheme.
Hence it is evident
to me that there are no actual works envisaged in the overall
combined project that were not included or
contemplated in either of the two planning applications. In
layman's terms, in the first part of the process, the Terminat,the gas
is offloaded into the terminal site and stored, and direcied to a
metering building. In the latter,it is taken from this metering
building, and transmitted into the grid network by means of the
I am also satisfied
that the "project splitting " mentioned by the developers is not
within the ambit of Section 5 , which is designed to determine
whether or not particular works or changes of use are or are not
development and are or are not exempted development .
I consider that all
of the other arguments put forward in the lengthy submission are
not within the ambit of Section 5, and many would appear to be legal in
nature, and hence a matter for the courts."
|Click here for entire decision on Submission by 'Safety Before LNG' (6.8 MB)
|Submission by Pierce and Keely Brosnan, California, USA
|Submission signed by Kathy Sinnott M.E.P
|Submission by Energy Analyst Steve Goldthorpe Energy Analyst, New Zealand
|Submission by Susan Jordan, Director of California Coastal Protection Network, USA
|Submission by John Monaghan, Pobal Chill Chomaín, County Mayo
Safety Before LNG Section 5 Referral
5 January 2009
An Bord Pleanála,
64 Marlborough Street,
Re: Section 5 referral on whether changes to the Shannon LNG project at Tarbert, County
Kerry granted permission under PA0002 constitute work on the original project which is
or is not development and is or is not exempted development.
We are hereby referring to An Bord Pleanála the Planning and Development Act 2000,
section 5 ruling by Kerry County Council received by us on December 16th 2008.
The ‘Safety Before LNG’ group represents people from both Kilcolgan and the wider
community and is advocating responsible strategic siting of LNG terminals in areas which
do not put people’s health and safety in danger.
Please find enclosed a cheque for €220, the required fee for this referral.
We are also attaching the following documentation:
I) Original Section 5 Submission to Kerry County Council
Section 5 Appendix 1. Signed Submission by MEP Ms. Kathy Sinnott.
Section 5 Appendix 2. Signed Submission by ‘Friends of the Irish
IV) Section 5 Appendix 3. Shannon LNG Information booklet, Issue 5
V) Section 5 Kealy and Pierce Brosnan Signed Submission
Section 5 Susan Jordan of the California Coastal Protection Network
VII) Section 5 Pobal
Chill Chomain, County Mayo, submission
VIII) Section 5 Steve
Goldthorpe, Energy Analyst, submission
Section 5 reply from Kerry County Council of December 16th 2008.
Kerry County Council, in its reply, seems to be of the opinion that since planning
permission for a pipeline has now been applied for separately then this does not represent
any material change to the original permission given for an LNG terminal, which did NOT
include the pipeline.
However, as highlighted by us in our section 5 request to Kerry County Council, we are
seeking a declaration under Section 5 (1) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 on
whether changes to the Shannon LNG terminal project constitute work on the original
project which is or is not development and is or is not exempted development.
We are of the opinion that the current GA0003 application before the Board should be for
a pipeline AND an LNG terminal. We are essentially requesting a declaration on whether
or not “project splitting” is development which is not exempt as per our original request to
the Council, because it represents a MATERIAL CHANGE to the original project and is
contrary to the EIA Directive.
We are especially concerned that Kerry County Council can deem our referral to it as “not
relevant and inappropriate” and would hope that An Bord Pleanála will, at the very least,
apply prudence in examining the issues we have raised here.
We have serious concerns about the cumulative impacts of this LNG project which have
not been assessed to date. The largest LNG tankers in the world will be coming to store
LNG in the most sizeable hazard in Ireland in the world’s largest LNG storage tanks. This
is effectively a third-world project in a first-world country.
1. There has been NO marine risk assessment of an LNG spill on water. This assessment
should be comparative.
2. There has been No marine risks assessment of an LNG accident from ships travelling
in the Shannon Estuary. The Health & Safety Authority confirmed at the recent An
Bord Pleanála oral hearing in Listowel on December 1st 2008 into the pipeline that its
remit stopped at the shoreline and the planning advice it gave to An Bord Pleanála did
not include any risks on water nor any deliberate acts such as terrorism or sabotage.
3. No consideration has been given to the consequences of an LNG accident or the
consideration of an emergency plan. No account has been taken of how and if an
emergency plan can even be implemented for the given site and project.
4. It is our contention that the interactions between the decision-making bodies (such as
the Foreshore Section, An Bord Pleanála, the EPA, the CER and the HSA) are
illegally totally inadequate and currently almost non-existent, cannot be assessed and
that the procedural requirements of the EIA Directive are not being respected. This is
compounded by the level of project-splitting of this development. An infringement
notice has been issued by the EU Commission against Ireland for the lack of
interaction between the EPA and An Bord Pleanála. There is no integrated assessment
of this project in our opinion.
5. Following the unexpected quick end to the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the
LNG pipeline held at Listowel on December 1st and 2nd 2008, the Safety Before LNG
group is calling for an investigation into what it now perceives as serious irregularities in the
planning process for the Shannon LNG project.
a. The group’s technical expert, Peter North, was not allowed to cross-examine the
developer at the oral hearing on the QRA the developer used to calculate the risk
of the project, because the inspector, Anne Marie O’Connor noted that this
document had not been submitted to the planning authority and would have to be
assessed by the CER. This brought a rapid close to the oral hearing because our
hands were effectively tied.
b. Peter North said that the risk could be 1000 times more than that stated by Leon
Baudoin for the developer, who had himself referred to the same QRA at the same
oral hearing when describing the risks to individuals as “insignificant”
c. The QRA had been supplied to Safety Before LNG by the Robert O’Rourke of the
CER on November 27th 2008 at 16:40 who stated “The Commission is currently
reviewing the Section 39A application from Shannon LNG and we will be in
contact with you in due course in relation to your submission. In the meantime we
have passed on your submission to Shannon LNG and have asked them to provide
a response. For your information, please find attached a Quantative Risk
Assessment undertaken by Shannon LNG, this document is also available on
Shannon LNG’s website.”
d. In its initial submission the CER said it would not have an Oral hearing if An Bord
Pleanála had one, but this was retracted by Denis Cagney of the CER at day 1 of
the oral hearing when we indicated that we would be cross-examining the CER.
e. Patrick Conneely, senior inspector of the Health and Safety Authority, admitted at
the hearing on day 1 that the H S A advice to An Bord Pleanála stopped at the
shoreline, did not include any risks from LNG tankers moving in the estuary, did
not include any LNG spill on water and did not include risks from deliberate acts
such as sabotage or terrorism.
f. When questioned by Peter North, Denis Cagney of the CER admitted that it did
not have the ability in house to assess the risks from the LNG project.
g. The Safety Before LNG group was also not allowed to submit evidence from a
New Zealand-based energy analyst Steve Goldthorpe who questioned the entire
logic of the LNG project. He stated that “the entire supply of natural gas for power
generation in Ireland in 2007 would correspond to 38 shiploads of LNG per year” .
As the developer anticipates 125 ships a year then it is now evident that the LNG is
for eventual export and that lower Irish corporation tax would be a motivating
factor. This cannot therefore be said to be in Ireland’s national interest.
h. We are of the opinion that Shannon LNG provided information to the planning
authorities which was misleading, if not downright false - an offence under the
i. they claimed that “spillages of LNG is likely to evaporate quickly on discharge”
which is not true.
ii. the risks from the pipeline could be up to 1000 times more risky than submitted
by Leon Baudoin.
To repeat ourselves, the proposed LNG terminal will be the most sizeable hazard in
Ireland, the impacts of which will be felt by many different interest groups beyond the
local area. .
The ‘Safety Before LNG’ group are now accusing the statutory bodies of cutting
corners in the assessment of the most sizeable hazard in Ireland because all the
statutory bodies have still refused to undertake or demand an LNG Marine Risk
Assessment dealing with the consequences of an LNG spill on water and do not have
the expertise inhouse to deal with the overall safety issues of the LNG project
6. Shannon LNG has delayed the construction date of its proposed Liquefied Natural
Gas regasification terminal at Tarbert County Kerry, according to industrial news
agencies in the US. Texas-based Industrial Info Resources reported on December 23rd
2008 that Shannon LNG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hess LNG, has delayed the
construction date but remains committed to constructing the first-ever Irish LNG-
receiving terminal. However, no future date has been disclosed. The 'Safety Before
LNG' group highlighted at an oral hearing held by An Bord Pleanála in Listowel on
December 1st and 2nd 2008 into the proposed pipeline from the LNG plant, evidence
from New Zealand-based energy analyst, Steve Goldthorpe, who noted that "the entire
supply of natural gas for power generation in Ireland in 2007 would correspond to 38
shiploads of LNG per year".
As already mentioned above, Shannon LNG, however, has stated in its formal
planning application documents that it has plans for deliveries of up to 125 shiploads
of LNG per year. We believe that this latest news would confirm our suspicions that
Hess is only interested in an LNG plant in Ireland if it can either monopolise the Irish
Market or else export gas via the interconnector, benefitting from Ireland's low
corporation tax. This project by a foreign multinational cannot therefore be deemed to
be in the national or public interest and we now request that the department assesses
this information in detail.
7. The Irish Constitution – Bunreacht na hEireann – states in Article 40 (1) that “All
citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law”. It states in Article 40
(3)(1) that “The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by
its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen”. And in Article
40(3)(2) it states that “The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may
from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good
name, and property rights of every citizen.”. We expect that An Bord Pleanála, as an
organ of the state should uphold these aforementioned constitutional rights. Residents
of a sparsely-populated area must be afforded the same degree of protection from
danger as residents of a more densely populated area, such as Dublin would be as
obliged by Article 40(1).
It was made quite clear to everyone involved at the An Bord Pleanála pipeline oral
hearing in Listowel on December 1st and 2nd 2008, that the inspector was only concerned
about the pipeline and would not entertain any reassessment of the original planning
application. She was therefore considering the pipeline as a standalone project.. This
referral therefore requires a ruling by the board on whether the pipeline represents a
material change to the original planning permission that would require a completely new
Johnny McElligott and Raymond O’Mahony
Safety Before LNG
Address: Island View, Convent Street, Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland