A view of the estuary near the site of the proposed LNG plant
THE High Court is expected to rule next week on its judicial review on extending planning permission to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Shannon Estuary.
The judicial review hearings were held over several days last week and a ruling is expected on February 15.
The ruling is likely to determine whether New Fortress Energy, the new backers of the project, can proceed to build the plant or whether they will have to apply for a new planning permission or abandon the plan altogether.
Environmentalists opposed to the project will hold a demonstration in Dublin this Sunday.
“Groups from all over Ireland and beyond, including Friends of the Earth, Futureproof Clare, Not Here Not Anywhere, Stop Climate Chaos and many more will be participating,” Anne Marie Harrington, a spokeswoman for local campaigning group, Futureproof Clare told the Limerick Leader.
“These groups recognise Shannon LNG as the biggest and most urgent threat to the Irish environment,” she continued.
“Last week, Friends of the Irish Environment brought a case before the High Court, challenging An Bord Pleanála's decision to renew planning permission for the project last August,” Ms Harrington explained.
“This is a technical challenge, on whether An Bord Pleanála followed their own procedures correctly in renewing planning permission. The process was surrounded by controversy,”she added.
“If successful, the new Shannon LNG owners, New Fortress Energy, may have to go back to the planning stages, buying the campaign Stop Shannon LNG valuable time to raise awareness and engage with politicians.”
Meanwhile, John McElligott, of Safety Before LNG, has claimed that An Bord Pleanála knew as early as April 4 last year that New Fortress Energy were coming on board as the new backers for the project.
This company, he pointed out, sources supplies from fracked gas and he believes that the liquid gas intended for the Kerry terminal would all come from fracking.
Yet, he argued, the public and the objectors were not made aware of New Fortress Energy’s involvement and its plans to use fracked gas until after the planning extension was granted.
“All we want is evidence-based decision making in a transparent manner,” he said and he feels he has been cheated.
Mr McElligott complained that Bord Pleanala “used to be the body you could appeal decisions to”, but is now “the authority to assess planning applications” and he alleges, the body is “hiding information from the public when it sees fit”.
The only way to appeal their decisions, then, is to go to court, he added.
“All this to import fracked gas from America without any SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) which would oblige the State to consider all reasonable alternatives,” Mr McElligott declared, pointing out that Ireland has banned fracking and acknowledged that fracked gas is one of the most environmentally damaging fossil fuels,
Sunday’s demonstration will assemble at the main entrance to St Stephen’s Green at 10.30am and the protest will take place on Grafton Street at 11am.
A Futureproof Clare awareness event on Shannon LNG will take place at the Cheese Press, Ennistymon, this Saturday at 4pm.