Environment group win the right to challenge Shannon LNG project in court

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

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normap@limerickleader.ie

Environment group win the right to challenge Shannon LNG  project in court

MEP Sean Kelly had argued the PCI was necessary for energy security

FRIENDS of the Irish Environment are jubilant this week, after they have won  High Court leave to challenge the decision to designate the proposed Shannon LNG project as a Project of Common Interest (PCI). 

The High Court case which will now  be taken by the Friends of the Irish Environment will argue that  both Ireland and the EU failed to do the independent, sustainability, climate and cost-benefit analysis required under the legislation. 

They also cite  a letter from Ditte Juul Jørgensen, EU Director General for Energy, where he states that “the available data were not sufficient to consider sustainability in a meaningful manner in the selection process”. 

And the environmental group also points out Ireland itself has questioned if the ‘implications of importing LNG have been examined in terms of a sustainable, secure and competitive European energy policy and if not that should be undertaken.’

 Last November, despite pressure from environmental groups and from MEPS from the Green Party, Sinn Fein, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, the Irish government refused to change its position and withdraw the proposed PCI designation for Shannon LNG.

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly, who supports the PCI designation, argued it was necessary for energy security. 

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When it came to be voted on in the European Parliament last week, a majority of MEPS supported the designation,  just a day before the Friends of the Irish Environment were given leave in the High Court to challenge the designation. 

“The decision to designate the Shannon LNG proposal as a PCI without the necessary assessment and consultations breached citizens natural and constitution rights,” Tony Lowes, director of Friends of the Environment said, after the High Court hearing. 

Mr Lowes, in a statement continued: “High Court Justice Dennis McDonald said today that the case was well made and in time, praising the clarity of the pleadings. He ordered that the European Commission be notified as a courtesy, although they are not Notice Parties.”

“It is an important part of our case that there should be a way for people to be able to challenge these decisions in the European Court. It has to be done in the European Court but we can only go to our national courts,” Mr Lowes added. 

 PCI projects are eligible for EU subsidies, but also for fast-track planning permission which could override environmental concerns.

There is already another case involving Shannon LNG already pending before the European Court of Justice and that is the decision to extend planning permission for Shannon LNG for  a further five years. That decision is not expected for another year.