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Press Release June 11th 2020: 



Cork LNG and Shannon LNG Floating Import Terminals (FSRUs) will not qualify for Strategic Infrastructure Fast-Track Planning in Ireland.

- An Bord Pleanala has been hiding for over one year the fact that Local councils and multiple state agencies must process proposed floating terminals, adding years to the planning-consent process since fast-track planning only allowed for Onshore terminals, not offshore terminals. 

- Loopholes must now be covered in any Programme for Goverment

A controversial article published by the Irish Examiner newspaper has helped reveal that floating fracked gas import terminals now being proposed by Shannnon LNG and Cork LNG will not qualify for  fast-track planning at An Bord Pleanala as Strategic Infrastructure, but must instead be processed by local county councils and multiple state agencies, adding years to the planning consent process. Fast-track planning is only allowed for Onshore Terminals, not offshore terminals called Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRUs).  The Shannon LNG and Cork LNG projects are owned by US fracked-gas transporters 'New Fortress Energy' and  'Next Decade' respectively. These loopholes of approval by multiple State Agencies, including the CRU, the Foreshore licensing process, the local authorities and the EPA, must now be covered in the Programme for Goverment in order to ensure that LNG terminals cannot be allowed to be built in Ireland and slip through the net of any Programme for Government policy statement.  

The  Irish Examiner on  June 1st 2020, reported that an emergency motion  proposed by Fine Gael Mayor of Tralee, Councillor Jim Finucane, was passed by Kerry County Council unanimously, even though the Meetings Administrator of Kerry County Council confirmed in writing that no such motion actually took place. And further investigations on the controversial article have revealed that any Floating Storage Terminal will not qualify for fast-track planning.

The Examiner newspaper intially wrote:

'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.'

going on to claim: 

"The application will go directly to an Bord Pleanala as it meets the terms of a piece of infrastructure of strategic importance to the country's energy supply"

However, the Meetings Administrator of Kerry County Council - Padraig Corkery - completely contradicted the claims by the Irish Examiner when he confirmed in writing:

"I attended the meeting on Friday May 29th, in my role as Meetings Administrator. There was a full quorum at the meeting. 

I can confirm that there were no emergency motions raised at the meeting.

In relation to the Shannon LNG matter, Cllr Finucane raised the matter on the floor under A.O.B. outlining that the proposed future of the Shannon LNG project, which is currently going through the planning process with An Bord Pleanala, be left to its own devices and should be allowed to proceed as a planning application without interference. Cllr Robert Beasley agreed with Cllr Finucane’s statement. There was no formal resolution, as it was a statement from Cllr Finucane. As a result there is no paperwork or documentation relating to this. Once the minutes are formally agreed at the next meeting of Kerry County Council, they will be a matter of public record".

The Irish Examiner also reported in the same article that the planning application by Shannon LNG will go "directly to An Bord Pleanala" even though the Board has not yet ruled that this is the case. This claim inspired climate activists to investigate further.

We discovered that Shannon LNG (now owned by New Fortress Energy) has an application a child could answer in 5 minutes sitting with An Bord Pleanala for over one year requesting a ruling on whether its newly-proposed US floating fracked gas import terminal (FSRU) on the Shannon Estuary would be allowed to qualify for fast-track planning directly with An Bord Pleanala. This status is only given to onshore terminals and not offshore terminals which an FSRU would be. This will add years to the planning process as planning consent will have to be determined initially by the local Kerry County Council and then approved by multiple State agencies, almost definitely adding years to any development consent process.  The Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 is very clear that only the following type of LNG infrastructure can qualify as Strategic Infrastructure for fast-track planning:

"An onshore terminal, building or installation, whether above or below ground, associated with an LNG facility and, for the purpose of this provision, ‘LNG facility’ means a terminal which is used for the liquefaction of natural gas or the importation, offloading and re-gasification of liquefied natural gas, including ancillary services."

Upcoming US Ban on Fracked Gas Imports to kill off  LNG terminals in Ireland

With Government formation talks likely to agree to ending the construction of LNG terminals in Ireland over concern for the climate and environmental impacts and for the health impacts on affected communities in the fracking fields of Pennsylvania and Texas, the reveleations come at a highly-sensitive time. It also explains why Next Decade never applied for fast-track planning for its proposed FRSU in Cork Harbour - it knew all along that it did not qualify. Why was nobody told in Ireland?  It should not take over a year for An Bord Pleanala to reveal that only onshore terminals qualify for fast-track planning. Where was the transparency?  The Commission for Energy Regulation (CRU) will have to be involved, along with the EPA and the Foreshore licensing system  in conjunction with local councils. Why is up to volunteer climate campaigners giving freely of their time in the public interest to reveal information with such long-term consequences for Climate breakdown instead of our own country's administration - both civic and political - along with its TV and newspaper media? The vested interests of 'Trade over Everything' is undermining the democratic process and the work of Government in Ireland. That is now very clear.  

But the Climate Movement has taken the fight to the vested interests.

In a sign of growing national consensus around the issue, it was revealed in April that almost half of the TDs elected to the Dail have signed a pledge stating that they were "opposed to the importation of US fracked Gas into Ireland via LNG import terminals".

Before the election, in its #Pledge4Climate campaign environmental  NGOS, 'Love Leitrim' , 'Friends of the Earth' and 'Safety Before LNG' obtained support from at least 193  candidates for the General election held on February 8th, 2020, for the pledge which stated:


"I am opposed to the importation of US fracked Gas into Ireland via LNG import terminals. If elected, I, as a T.D., will work to find a way in the next Dail to prevent fracked Gas from entering the Irish energy mix via fixed or floating LNG terminals. I am opposed to fracking in Northern Ireland .If elected, I, as a T.D., will work constructively in the next Dail to prevent fracking from taking place in Northern Ireland".


74 of those candidates got elected and this included all the elected T.D.s from the Labour Party, The Social Democrats,  People Before Profit, The Green Party, Independents for Change, and Sinn Fein,  along with leading elected Fianna Fail and Fine Gael T.D.s Eamon O'Cuiv, Marc McSharry and Frank Feighan.


These numbers were boosted by the clear positions against Fracking taken by Fianna Fail in the Dail on October 3rd, 2019 "in recognition of the health and climate impacts of exploiting shale gas reserves".


Already, on October 3rd 2019, the Majority of Ireland's MEPs had told the European Commission not to allow fracked gas into Ireland via the Projects of Common Interest list. The Irish MEPs were supporting a motion co-signed by 44 TDs initiated by Brid Smith of 'People Before Profit', submitted to the Dail on September 26th, 2019 calling on the Irish Government:


"to remove any project from the proposed list of Projects of Common Interest that could support the building of an LNG facility in Ireland that will act as a gateway for fracked gas entering the Irish energy mix; and − to build support in Europe to prioritise sustainability criteria in the assessment of candidate PCI projects, that will address fossil fuel lock in and the long-term impacts of fracked gas in the European energy mix, given the expected change in climatic conditions."


On November 15th, 2019, at  the Youth Assembly on Climate Change held in Dail Eireann, Roisin Keegan-O'Rourke  informed the House that the Youth Assembly was proposing:


"for Ireland to ban the importation of fracked gas and invest solely in renewables

 

On November 27th, 2019, in a signal of Government softening on the issue, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, speaking in the Dail stated:


"The Government banned fracking in Ireland, through a Private Members' Bill introduced by my colleague, Deputy McLoughlin. I am not sure whether we are in a position to ban the import of fracked  gas from other jurisdictions. I will have to check it out"


On February 12th, 2020  the majority of Irish MEPs (including Fine Gael's Maria Walsh) voted against the 4th PCI list which included the proposed Shannon LNG fracked gas import project.


The Department of Environment  has announced a major review into the security and sustainability of Ireland's energy supply but under the outdated presumption that gas is considered  "as the lowest CO2 emitting fossil fuel" which is pre-judging the outcome and runs contrary to the accepted scientific testimony at the Climate Committee meeting last year that importing fracked gas from the US has a carbon-equivalent footprint 44% greater than that of the coal of Moneypoint (without even considering the emissions from the LNG transport itself) . This is because the future review proposed by the Department does not consider the most potent emissions from leaked methane upstream - the  non-territorial emissions - from fracking and is only comparing the emissions released when coal and gas are burned. That is called gaming the system by setting the parameters of the study to get the outcome the Department wants and that is why political oversight of climate assessments are necessary in order to have evidence-based decision making in a transparent manner.

 

The assessment of Methane Emissions promised by the European Commission for the 5th PCI list of projects in two years time is also gaming the system and pre-judging the assessment of fracked gas imports by only assessing the emissions taking place in the European Union and not the full life-cycle, non-territorial emissions from US fracked gas imports.


Over 150 NGOS and academics have so far supported our proposed LNG energy policy statement wording to be included in the Programme for Government which is:

"Liquefied Natural Gas
The new Government is not supportive of new fossil fuel infrastructure in the form of LNG import terminals that could facilitate the entry of unconventional liquefied natural gas into the Irish energy mix. Such imports may create a functional interdependence between Irish energy consumption and global warming due to the high levels of non-territorial methane emissions linked to the exploitation of global shale gas resources."

With two ongoing high-court legal challenges against the proposed Shannon LNG fracked gas import plan with no assessment of the climate impacts, a national consensus is building that there is no longer any tolerance for the importation of fracked gas into Ireland, given that we have already banned fracking in Ireland due to the negative health and climate impacts.


On April 30th, 2020, the European Court of Justice found that Shannon LNG's planning permission was invalid.

This means that Shannon LNG will have no valid planning permission after the ECJ findings are confirmed by the European Court of Justice and the Irish  High Court. It's permission for the pipeline from Tarbert to Foynes expired after 5 years.

Notes to Editor:
Letter from Kerry County Council:
From: Padraig Corkery <padraig.corkery@kerrycoco.ie>
Sent: Monday 8 June 2020 15:16
To: Safety Before LNG SLNG <safetybeforelng@hotmail.com>; FOI <FOI@kerrycoco.ie>
Subject: RE: AIE Request on Shannon LNG comments at May 31st 2020 Kerry County Council meeting
 

Mr McElligott,

 

I refer to your AIE request.

 

If I might possibly speed things up it might not be necessary to make a formal application.

 

I attended the meeting on Friday May 29th, in my role as Meetings Administrator. There was a full quorum at the meeting.

 

I can confirm that there were no emergency motions raised at the meeting.

 

In relation to the Shannon LNG matter, Cllr Finucane raised the matter on the floor under A.O.B. outlining that the proposed future of the Shannon LNG project, which is currently going through the planning process with An Bord Pleanala, be left to its own devices and should be allowed to proceed as a planning application without interference. Cllr Robert Beasley agreed with Cllr Finucane’s statement.

 

There was no formal resolution, as it was a statement from Cllr Finucane. As a result there is no paperwork or documentation relating to this.

 

Once the minutes are formally agreed at the next meeting of Kerry County Council, they will be a matter of public record.

 

I hope that this is of assistance. If you still wish to continue with your AIE request please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Regards

 

Padraig Corkery

Access to Information on the Environment Officer

Kerry County Council

T: 066-7183720



Full Examiner Article