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Shannon LNG Terminal Application unlikely to succeed despite marketing hype

24 Jun 2021

Friends of the Earth expects the Government Moratorium on Liquefied Natural Gas infrastructure to block planning permission for the terminal

 

Recent media reports [1] have stated that New Fortress Energy has notified stakeholders of its intent to reapply for planning permission for the construction of a €650 million Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and power planet along the Shannon estuary. However, Friends of the Earth today said it would be “very surprised” if An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission as it must have regard to a Government Policy Statement published last month, that included a moratorium on the development of LNG import terminals pending the completion of an energy security review [2].

Commenting on this, Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth said:

"I would urge everyone, and business journalists in particular, to treat the constant sales patter from New Fortress Energy as the marketing hype it is. They sound like hucksters trying to convince themselves as much as their investors and the media that there is path forward for their project. Last month the Government introduced a moratorium on LNG infrastructure while an Energy Security Review [3] is carried out. That makes it extremely unlikely that An Bord Pleanála will grant planning permission for a project that centres on … an LNG terminal."

"Friends of the Earth is confident that any energy security review that is based on science and evidence rather than the agendas of fossil fuel companies will conclude that Ireland should not lock itself in to new fossil gas infrastructure. Any credible energy security review needs to be based on supply and demand scenarios that are in line with the Paris Agreement and the legal targets in the new Climate Bill."

“We will need to examine energy demand as well as supply. As recent reporting has shown the planned expansion in data centres is incompatible with our climate targets. An energy security review that concluded we needed to build LNG terminals to power new data centres would be a travesty. It’s worth remembering that the International Energy Agency [4], hardly a caravan of tree-hugging hippies, recently concluded that there should be no new investment in fossil fuel infrastructure after this year if we are to contain climate breakdown in line with the Paris Agreement."

“The Energy Security Review is scheduled to take at least another year and will include a public consultation phase. It’s essential that as many civil society organizations representing the public interest as possible weigh in to counterbalance the vested interests that will try to convince government that policy should align with their profit-driven corporate agendas."

“Fossil fuel companies are the most powerful and corrupting industry the world has ever seen. Big Oil and Gas are happy for humanity to run the risk of complete climate chaos in order to maximize their short-term profits. But from the XL pipeline in the US [5], to the recent Shell court case [6], to the ban on new offshore exploration here in Ireland [7], we are increasingly seeing their polluting agenda [8] stopped by people power. The Irish political leaders who preside over the Energy Security Review will have to decide which side they are on.”

ENDS

Notes:

1. See RTE, Independent, Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post
2. Policy Statement on the Importation of Fracked Gas Published, 18 May 2021
The Policy Statement sets out 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 proceeded with;
  • the Government will work with like-minded European States to promote and support changes to European energy laws – in particular the upcoming revision of the European Union’s Gas Directive and Gas Regulation – in order to allow the importation of fracked gas to be restricted; and
  • the Government will work with international partners to promote the phasing out of fracking at an international level within the wider context of the phasing out of fossil fuel extraction.

Planning Authorities, when assessing any planning application, must have regard to relevant Government policy.

3. The Department of Energy is currently carrying our a review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems. The review is focusing on the period to 2030 in the context of ensuring a sustainable pathway to 2050. The review includes a technical analysis which will help inform a public consultation. It is planned the review will be completed by the end of 2021, following which it will be submitted to Government.

4. The International Energy Agency recently examined a pathway to building a global energy sector with net-zero emissions in 2050. The IEA set out that this pathway “no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects”.

5. See more on the cancellation of XL Keystone pipeline here.

6. See more on the Shell case and Dutch court order to reduce emissions here.

7. The Government committed in February to introducing legislation to ban licences for new oil and natural gas exploration in accordance with Programme for Government commitments. This has been implemented through the amending climate legislation currently going through the Oireachtas and involves an amendment to the Petroleum 1960 Act.

8. Reuters highlighted on 24 June new analysis which shows that gas infrastructure across Europe is leaking methane.

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