Ireland banned fracking but a company named Sambolo Resources wants to open one of Europe’s biggest projects to process fracked US gas from Trump’s America in the Shannon Estuary nature reserve where whales and dolphins swim.
The recent decision of An Bord Pleanála to extend the old planning permission for another five years – without a previous public consultation on the need for LNG development in Ireland – has shocked environmental groups and local activists who have hoped for at least a proper democratic process.
They highlight that the Shannon LNG terminal would contribute significantly to climate change, destroy local biodiversity, involve more fossil fuel lock-in and damage the up-and-coming Irish renewables industry. Global trends show that investors are prioritising green development.
The proposed Shannon LNG terminal is huge: the proposed final maximum capacity of at least 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year would equal the European Union’s most ambitious gas project, the Southern Gas Corridor, and supply Ireland‘s fossil gas needs twice over. Fracked hydrocarbons would be tankered in from the United States, processed and much of it then sent to Europe, with Ireland becoming a gas import hub.
Planning permission was first granted in 2008 but since then lots of things have changed:
The Shannon Estuary has been declared an Estuaries Special Protection Area by the EU; the exact site is now an EU Special Protected Area for waterbirds and whales, dolphins and porpoises.
We now know how dangerous fossil gas – in particular fracked gas – is: over a 20 year period methane is almost 90 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
Numerous leaks and accidents have proved the destructive impact of fracking and LNG on the environment, climate and public health.
Ireland has banned fracking and the Dáil has voted for full divestment from fossil fuels.
Ireland signed the Paris Climate Agreement; this project would make our emissions goals unreachable.
However, An Bord Pleanála, the Irish State Planning Board, decided to fully ignore all these facts, stating that extending the expiring planning permission for the proposed Shannon LNG “would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment.”
This decision comes at a time when even the economic arguments speak against the extension of LNG infrastructure in Europe. The utilisation rate of all existing EU LNG terminals is at only roughly 23 percent, clearly showing that any new investments in LNG infrastructure will almost inevitably create stranded assets. At the same time, environmental groups as well as the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA) challenged a Department of Energy-funded study that concludes U.S. economic growth would be boosted by unlimited LNG exports.
According to the groups, An Bord Pleanála has failed to provide a proper democratic process and has completely ignored the significant local, national and international main arguments that clearly speak against the project – such as Ireland’s Climate Change commitments and the absence of a Strategic Environment Assessment.
They also express concerns about possible political interference in the decision-making process at An Bord Pleanála – given the fact that a major US investor is apparently close to purchasing the entire Shannon LNG site for an estimated €25-€30m.
Jointly, they’re calling for a judicial review of the decision and a proper public consultation on the proposed fracked gas LNG terminal at Shannon.
 Safety Before LNG, Not Here Not Anywhere, Love Leitrim, Food & Water Europe, People’s Climate Clare
Not Here Not Anywhere, Ciara Barry. Email: [email protected]
Safety Before LNG, Johnny McElliot. Email: [email protected]
People’s Climate Clare, Anne Marie Harrington. Email: [email protected]
Love Leitrim*, Eddie Mitchell. Email: [email protected]
Food & Water Europe, Andy Gheorghiu. Email: [email protected]
Notes for the Editor:
*Love Leitrim is a community organisation that was to the forefront in the Irish Fracking ban (http://www.loveleitrim.org).