PAYMENTS of €4.1 million to Kerry County Council by Shannon LNG raise
very serious ethical questions
Development Plan compromised and tainted by payments which Fine Gael
Councillor Jim Finucane says were "good
faith contributions made by a
company that was committed to the area"
Shannon LNG's payments of millions of euros to Kerry County Council
before it lodged its planning application compromises and taints the
Kerry County Development Plan, local activists fear. 'Safety Before
LNG' says that the highly irregular payments need to be fully and
Shannon LNG has paid €4,103,625 to date to Kerry County Council
as possible development contributions for road widening in Tarbert.
A question mark is hanging over the Council on whether or not it will
have to pay that more-than €4 million back to Shannon
LNG if the development does not go ahead?
Kerry County Council requested and was paid over €2.4 million by
Shannon LNG after its planning permission for an onshore LNG terminal expired
in 2018 and before it lodged a new planning application for a
floating LNG terminal and 600 MW Power Station in Tarbert in
We are extremely concerned about the implications and consequences
of Shannon LNG paying millions of euros to Kerry County Council at a
point in time when it was not obliged to do so and before it lodged a
new planning application.
Fine Gael Councillor Jim Finucane told the Irish Independent Newspaper
that these payments were "good faith"
contributions made by a company that was committed to the area. This
defence by a Fine Gael politician of irregular payments of millions of
euros to the council is unacceptable in this day and age. Is he taking
the people for fools, we ask?
Shannon LNG still had a valid planning permission to construct a 500 MW
power station next to the onshore terminal but the power station was so
intrinsically linked to the proposed terminal it was questionable if
the power station could ever be built as planned if the terminal could
not go ahead. But Shannon LNG paid the money anyway. All of this €2.4
million was paid after Shannon LNG held its first pre-application
planning meeting with Kerry County Council, on January 24th 2020, concerning the new application
Infrastructure Status it had lodged at An Bord Pleanála on
March 20th, 2019 for a Floating LNG terminal and power station.
Even after having the confirmation in the High Court in November 2020
that Shannon LNG had lost all existing planning consent for the onshore
LNG terminal since 2018 Shannon LNG, nevertheless, paid €1,828,625 to
Kerry County Council before it lodged a new planning
application on August 27th 2021 for a floating LNG terminal and 600
MW power plant. Kerry County Council, a prescribed body, ended up supporting the planning application at An Bord
Pleanála at its October 18th 2021 meeting..
Figures detailed in an AIE response from Kerry County Council have
revealed that the local authority requested and was paid 7
payments totalling €4,103,625 by Shannon LNG since 2009. The latest
payment of €578,625 was on August 18th, 2021 - 9 days before Shannon
LNG lodged its planning
application on August 27th 2021 with Kerry County Council
On one occasion, on January 19th 2021, Kerry County Council actually
received €625,000 from Shannon LNG on the very same day it held a
formal pre-application planning meeting with Shannon LNG on a planning
application it had not yet lodged.
This is a summary of the payments from the AIE response:
In 2008 Shannon LNG obtained a 10-year
which included an obligation to pay a development contribution for the
widening of the L-1010 road from Tarbert village to the site. It
initially paid €1.65 million in 2009 but no works were started by the
Council in the 10 years during which this planning consent was valid.
On July 9th, 2013, Shannon LNG also obtained a 10-year planning
permission for a 500 MW Power
adjacent to the LNG terminal. This planning consent also had an
obligation to pay a development contribution for the widening of the
same L-1010 road from Tarbert village. The power plant, however, was so
intrinsically linked to the onshore LNG terminal that it had a condition
electricity generation facility shall not operate
commercially prior to the commissioning of the LNG terminal”.
onshore terminal planning expired then the power station, as applied
for, could not be built as planned very easily as the onshore LNG
terminal to which it was linked as planned would never be built.
Planning permission for the power station, in a sense, expired de facto
when the onshore terminal planning expired.
Road-widening works on the same local road from Tarbert as far as
another planning project - an Eirgrid Substation - started in September/October 2020.
Planning permission had expired on Shannon LNG's terminal on March
31st 2018, but before it expired, Shannon LNG applied for a 5-year
extension of planning consent on 22nd September 2017, which was
approved by An Bord Pleanála on 13th July 2018 and then appealed
to the High Court on September 17th 2018. On February 15th 2019,
the High Court ordered that no
works be carried out and it was confirmed that Shannon LNG had lost
all development consent in the High
Court on November 9th, 2020.
On 25th February 2020, after the Judge had ordered all works to stop
(they hadn’t even started in reality), however, and while going through
the high court, Shannon LNG paid another €625,000 to Kerry County
On March 20th, 2019, Shannon LNG lodged a new application for Strategic
at An Bord Pleanála for a Floating LNG terminal and new Power Station.
It held its first pre-application planning meeting with
Kerry County Council, on January 24th 2020,
concerning its new application. At that point in time, would Kerry
County Council not have known that there was no intention to go ahead
with any of the existing development consents for which it took
development contributions totalling over €4 million anyway?
Even after having the confirmation in the High Court in November 2020
that Shannon LNG had lost all planning consent for the LNG terminal
since 2018, Shannon LNG, nevertheless, paid another €1,828,625 to
Kerry County Council BEFORE it lodged a new planning
application on August 27th 2021 .
On the day of one of their pre-application planning meetings with Kerry
County Council, on January 19th 2021, Shannon LNG paid the Council
It may be very difficult to objectively accept that Kerry County
Council could have been neutral when it was concluded in the
pre-application meeting of January 19th 2021, the same day it received
the €625,000 from the applicant, that
The Listowel Municipal District Local Area Plan 2020-2026 was actually adopted
on 21st September 2020 - stating how Shannon LNG would have a
“significant positive impact”
- just 8 months after the council
received its first payment of €625,000 in over 10 years from Shannon
LNG on the 25th February 2020.
proposed site is
referenced in the new Listowel MD LAP 2020-2026
, and also advised that
the existing policies of the Kerry County Development Plan remain in
Of most concern is the paying of millions of euros for roadworks by
Shannon LNG that would benefit its future planning application to a
local authority involved in all aspects of the decision-making process
as a prescribed body via the local and county development plans and
submissions directly to An Bord Pleanála. One question that arises is
whether or not the council was entitled to receive any contribution
from the developer for 2 planning developments where there was an
almost-certain likelihood they would not be built as applied for and
whether or not Shannon LNG should have paid over €2.4 million to
the council when they would not or could not, in all likelihood, build
either development as originally planned?
Another real concern is whether or not Kerry County Council could have
been neutral when it updated the Kerry County Development Plan 2022-2028 to
support Shannon LNG, at a time when it was against Government Policy,
with this objective:
Facilitate the expansion of the gas network, including the facilitation
of a gas importation facility in the Tarbert/Ballylongford Landbank,
and the expansion of the network to the Kerry Hub and Knowledge
Triangle settlements of Tralee, Killarney and Killorglin.
The County Development Plan will be heavily depended upon by An Bord
Pleanála as it decides on the Shannon LNG planning application.
It would be very concerning if Kerry County Council asked for and
was paid €2.4 million or that Shannon LNG gave €2.4 million if they had
strong doubts that the development would in all likelihood
no longer be built as per the planning application and would need to go
through a new planning process. The credibility of the Kerry County
Development Plan in favour of Shannon LNG for the creation of a Shannon
Estuary Sacrifice Zone now risks being brought into disrepute. If true,
would it not represent serious corruption at a local government level?
Kerry County Council is a prescribed body for this planning
application. It begs the question why it would accept any money
from a planning applicant while going through the planning process?
A big concern locally is whehter this money has to be paid back to
Shannon LNG if it does not get planning permission.
Energy’s Money Offers - a trend?
Shannon LNG (owned by New Fortress Energy) also allegedly
unsuccessfully offered what was described in the Dáil as a bribe essentially of €1 million to an
as a settlement to prevent the illegal An Bord Pleanála decision giving
an extension of planning to Shannon LNG being overturned in the High
Court. But the NGO (Friends of the Irish Environment), it was claimed -
the last man standing - apparently refused the money as a legal
settlement and went on to win its case against Shannon LNG.
There are also claims emanating from the US that New Fortress
Energy, which was awarded two
special permits by the
Trump Administration to haul hazardous liquified natural gas (LNG),
including by rail, along Florida’s east coast, apparently forgave more
than $100 million in debt owed by President Trump. The claims continue
that although New Fortress Energy owner Wes Edens’ modest political
contributions skew mostly to Democrats, Fortress also loaned $57
million in October 2017 to the Kushner Companies, run by Trump’s
son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. We expect, however, that
those claims could not possibly be true because the consequences
would be enormous.
Previous owner of Shannon LNG, Paddy Power, from Tralee - now living in
Dublin - and his family are reported
to have received over US $16.7 million in a buyout deal from New
Fortress Energy in 2020 and are due to receive another $9.9 million
once the first gas is supplied to the proposed LNG terminal.
In May 2022, Wes Edens lied to the Taoiseach
in an open letter posted to every house in North Kerry when he wrote
"Planning approval for the 26 km gas
pipeline to connect to the GNI
Grid has been secured". The pipeline
consent expired in 2014!
Most disgraceful of all, locally is the fact that the entire
600-acre site of the proposed LNG terminal strategic public land
in North Kerry (under the control of Shannon Group State Body) were
sold to Wes Edens’ Shannon LNG for €25 million in late 2021 after the new planning
application for theLNG terminal was lodged in August 2021 by
Shannon LNG, contrary to the official government policy on the importation of fracked gas published
on May 18th, 2021 in place at the time.
The policy statement
declares that "Ireland imports much of its natural gas
via the two
pipelines from Moffat in Scotland, which provide the majority of
natural gas currently used in Ireland. Given the level of fracked gas
in the imports from Scotland is considered very low, the highest risk
of fracked gas being imported into Ireland on a large-scale would be
via liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, if any were to be constructed
The policy statement concludes that “pending
the outcome of the review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s
electricity and natural gas systems, it would not be appropriate for
the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland to be permitted or
Kerry County Council
There is no easily-identifiable mention in the 2021 Adopted Budget
for Kerry Council for 2020 or 2021 of the monies received from Shannon
investment by Shannon LNG
Councillor Mike Kennelly claimed on June 23rd 2021
“€11 million investment by New Fortress
Energy to construct 4.5KM of
new road, footpath, public lighting, from Tarbert Comprehensive School
to the entrance to the Tarbert-Ballylongford landbank. €3 million first
phase which will be finished in July. The public need to be informed of
the investment by this company who have confirmed that they are going
back looking for planning permission to bring jobs and an energy supply
not just to North Kerry but to Ireland of a clean gas supply with 100s
of jobs at construction and unlimited jobs with 8 data bases. Please
show your support for this project that will be transformative for
Red flags should have started flying when Shannon LNG handed over more
than half a million euros to the council on the same day it got support
for its fracked gas import terminal at its pre-planning meeting with
Kerry County Council officials.
Our confidence in the planning process at Kerry County Council is now
seriously undermined. We think this money should be relinquished or
confiscated and that, in the interest of transparency and good
governance, all decisions made supporting LNG in the Local and Draft
County Development Plans which were contrary to the current government
policy against LNG terminals should be independently reviewed and
overturned with urgency.
Only one person spoke out against the Kerry County Council support for
the Shannon LNG plan - Councillor Cathal Foley at the Kerry County
Council Meeting of October 18th, 2021
“Cllr. Cathal Foley said not everyone in
the county supports this
application. He referred to page 51 of the report which states “The
source of the imported gas is not mentioned as far as I can make out.
Should the source of this gas align with government policy as to how it
is sourced/harvested?” and said he believes this question has not been
answered. The county should have no association with harvesting gas.
There is no guarantee that fracked gas will not be imported. The
Department of Climate Action says that pending the outcome of the
review of security of energy supply, it would not be appropriate for
development of any LNG terminals to be permitted within Ireland.
Section 34 of the Planning and Development Act requires a planning
authority to consider the proper planning and sustainable development
of an area with regard being had to relevant government policies. He
said he believes this planning application is premature and we should
not get people's hopes up when it looks like the government policy is
against LNG terminals. He reiterated that Kerry should have no
association with bringing fracked gas into Ireland.”
Regarding Councillor Jim Finucane:
“Cllr. Jim Finucane said he can understand
concerns raised. This
company is committed to not using fracked gas. It is a matter for
the Minister to ban fracked gas. While most of the country’s gas supply
is coming via Scotland there is no control over our supply”
We have no record of
Shannon LNG stating that it is “committed to not using
“The Chief Executive said the report
presented is the planning view and
this will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála. The views of the members
will be minuted and sent with the report. Clarification of the
Government statement in respect of LNG will be a matter for An Bord
Pleanála to consider; it is not a matter for this Council. It is the
opinion of the planning authority that the proposal is compliant with
the local plans, RSES, the County Development Plan, The Shannon
Integrated Framework and the LECP. The area has been designated for
energy use and for gas use. It is the view of the planning authority
that the application complies strongly with the local plans of the
county. In relation to any other matter, it is a matter for An Bord
Kerry County Council gave the following statement to Radio Kerry on
"The works that Kerry County Council has
carried out as a road authority
in this instance are not connected to, and are independent to the
outcome of any planning application that is currently before An Bord
Pleanala in respect of proposed development at the
The works on the
L1010 have been carried out as part of a planning
condition which applied to a 2008 planning approval (PL08.PA0002) for
an LNG plant and a subsequent planning condition which applies to a
2013 planning approval (08.PA0028) granted by An Bord Pleanala for the
purposes of a combined heat and power plant in the Landbank. Both
planning applications were granted by An Bórd Pleanala under the
Strategic Infrastructure Development Act and as such Kerry County
Council had no role in the decision-making process.
Any monies received
by Kerry County Council relate to the L1010 road
improvement works referenced in the 2008 and 2013 planning conditions,
are non-refundable, and have been fully expended on the project".
However, Kerry County Council did in fact have a very important
"role in the decision-making process" in the original planning
permission granted for the LNG terminal in 2008 which had a condition that Kerry County Council was to be
awarded €43,076 by An Bord Pleanála "towards
reasonable costs incurred in consideration of the application".
Development Contribution Scheme
Section 48 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended,
provision for the reimbursement of Contributions if the specified works
are not commenced within 5 or completed within 7 years of the payment.
The Development Contribution Scheme 2017 drawn up by
Council notes that “when a commencement notice is received by the
Planning Authority an invoice is then issued for development
contributions”. The Statutory Audit Report to the Members of Kerry
County Council for the Year Ended 31 December 2019 includes a
response from the Chief Executive of Kerry County Council stating
that “it is important to note that
payment of development
contributions falls due upon commencement of development”.
However, according to the AIE response, Kerry County Council has
revealed that the local authority `requested”
and was paid 7
payments totalling €4,103,625 by Shannon LNG since 2009. It is
difficult to therefore understand why Kerry County Council could
request payments that were not yet due from developments it knew were
not proceeding, which the High Court had already ordered were not to
proceed, for road-widening works that had not yet started until after
the planning for the LNG terminal had expired.
It is reasonable to fear that there could be a legitimate expectation
by the developer for the return of
these funds if planning permission for the new application is
refused. Kerry County Council would seem to be
financially exposed to relinquishing €4.1 million.