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Exposing the truth about the New Fortress Energy 'Shannon LNG' project
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Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Press Release June 29th 2021: 

Serious issues of credibility after Minister Ryan wrongly advised by his Department that Shannon LNG planning application would be assessed by Section 34 of the Planning Act, when An Bord Pleanála ruled on June 2nd it must go through the fast-track planning section 37.

Minister Ryan stated on Sunday June 27th  on the 'This Week' programme on RTE Radio 1:

 "If an application is put in, I don't believe it would be successful. Under section 34 of the Planning Act, Bord Pleanála does have to take regard of government policy decisions. We did as a government make a decision earlier in May that we would not be proceeding, we did not want, we would not support the introduction of new LNG terminals pending a full energy review being done and  in  those circumstances I would be very surprised if An Bord Pleanála ignored the legislation and the clear policy direction by the government." (9 minutes and  40 seconds in).

However, the problem is that the Shannon LNG project will be fast-tracked using Section 37 of the Planning Act created by the Strategic Infrastructure Act 2006  and not using the section 34 for non-strategic infrastructure planning applications following An Bord Pleanála's  explicit ruling in its decision of June 2nd 2021 when it stated:

"the proposed development would be strategic infrastructure within the meaning of the Act and any application for approval must therefore be made directly to the Board under section 37E".

Section 34 is explicitly clear that any of the restrictions of section 34 only apply to applications lodged "under this section" so the fast-tracked section 37 Shannon LNG application is not impacted in the slightest by section 34 :

(2) (a) When making its decision in relation to an application under this section, the planning authority shall be restricted to considering the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, regard being had to—
(i) the provisions of the development plan,
(ia) any guidelines issued by the Minister under section 28,
(ii) the provisions of any special amenity area order relating to the area,
(iii) any European site or other area prescribed for the purposes of section 10(2)(c),
(iv) where relevant, the policy of the Government, the Minister or any other Minister of the Government,
(v) the matters referred to in subsection (4),

Minister Ryan is not a bystander so saying "I don't believe it would be successful" and "I would be surprised if An Bord Pleanála ignored the legislation and the clear policy direction of the government" is cavalier in the extreme and does not inspire confidence. If such basic mistakes as this are being made in the advice he receives on Shannon LNG then what other mistakes are being made, one wonders.

As Minister Ryan is not sure if Shannon LNG's planning application would be successful, it is now clear that he should ask for advice from the Attorney General on whether the published government policy against LNG terminals is enough to stop the Shannon LNG getting planning permission. We think it is not enough because under section 143, An Bord Pleanála needs only to have "regard to" government policies. Whereas if an order to comply under Section 29(1) is given then An Bord Pleanála "shall comply" as long as the order is given before the planning application is lodged.

Ministerial policy directives“ section 29 states that “The Minister may, from time to time, issue policy directives to planning authorities regarding any of their functions under this Act and planning authorities shall comply with any such directives in the performance of their functions”.

Section 29(1) applies for ALL types of applications, be they ordinary planning applications, appeals or fast-track planning applications. That is why a section 29(1) is so powerful. So why won't the Minister use it?

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act, the Minister shall not exercise any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or the Board is or may be concerned

Why is Minister Ryan leaving this decision to chance when there are options available to make a decision against Shannon LNG airtight using, for example, section 29(1)?

A Minister doesn't make those mistakes unless deliberately or mistakenly misinformed by his advisors. This is very serious. Minister Ryan was only repeating what a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment told the Irish Examiner on June 22nd:


"Section 34 of the Planning & Development Act requires An Bord Pleanála (or any planning authority) to consider the proper planning and sustainable development of an area with regard being had to relevant Government policies such as the Policy Statement on the Importation of Fracked Gas"

If the Minister has received  wrong advice from his advisors on the relevant section under which Shannon LNG is going for planning then this is serious grounds for concern.

An Bord Pleanála has a dual role in dealing with Strategic Infrastructure Projects on the European  PCI (Projects of Common Interest) List. It is the official body in Ireland for PCI projects that has to report directly to DG Energy in the European Commission and ensure that planning permission for such projects is expedited as quickly as possible while at the same time actually being the body that decides on the planning application. Given that An Bord Pleanála already illegally extended Shannon LNG's planning permission (as ruled by the High Court on November 9th, 2020), we wonder why the Minister "would be very surprised if An Bord Pleanála ignored the legislation" when An Bord Pleanála has a clear track record of ignoring the legislation either mistakenly or deliberately for the advantage of the PCI-listed Shannon LNG project.

It is now time for Minister Ryan to close the loophole to ensure that a Shannon LNG planning application is not allowed to be permitted or proceeded with as per published government policy, pending the outcome of the Energy Review which the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage says "is expected to be completed by the end of the current year".


Contact: John McElligott  Tel: 087-2804474 / / 

Note 1:

Notification of new Government policy on fracked gas imports to An Bord Pleanála by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on May 26th, 2021:

2. Official record of the new Government Policy on Fracked gas imports of May 18th 2021: