Shannon Gas Pipeline

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.
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Shannon Gas Pipeline is a proposed gas pipeline in Ireland. It is associated with the Shannon LNG Terminal.[1]

Location

The pipeline will run from the southern shore of the Shannon Estuary, County Kerry to the national grid at Foynes, County Limerick, Ireland.[1]

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Project Details

  • Operator: Gas Networks Ireland (GNI)
  • Parent company: Ervia
  • Current capacity: 82.9 million cubic feet per day
  • Length: 16.2 mi / 26 km
  • Status: Proposed
  • Start Year: 2022
  • Associated Infrastructure: Shannon LNG Terminal

Background

The pipeline will be 26 km (16.2 miles), and export up to 26.8 MCM/d (82.9 mmcf/d) to the national grid at Foynes, County Limerick, with an initial deliverability of 16.1 MCM/d. It is associated with the Shannon LNG Terminal. Both the pipeline and the terminal have been added to the European Commission's fourth Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, meaning they're eligible for public funding.[1]

The status of the pipeline and the associated terminal proposals are in question, as opposition to their construction has halted the project's progress.[2]

Opposition

In February 2019, protestors stage a die-in in protest of the associated Shannon LNG Terminal.[3]

In October of 2018, an environmental group secured permission to bring a High Court challenge over the decision taken by An Bord Pleanála (Ireland's Planning Board) to extend planning permission to develop the Shannon Terminal. Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) wanted orders quashing a five year extension of permission for development of the terminal, which includes four large tanks, jetties to receive ships, and associated works at Kilcolgan, near Tarbert in north Kerry. Permission for the facility, where gas will be shipped for use by consumers in Ireland and Europe, was granted in 2008. The facility has not yet been constructed and the developer, Shannon LNG Ltd, got an extension of the planning permission on July 13th last.

In its proceeding, FIE claims the Planning Board failed to take account of the possibility of significant effects of the proposed development on local wildlife and flora. It also claims the Board failed to take into account the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, intended to drive Ireland’s transition to a low carbon state in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement. FIE wants orders quashing the extension decision and a declaration the Board failed to exclude the possibility that the development would have significant effects on bottlenosed dolphins in the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation. FIE claims the Board erred in law by allegedly failing to take account of up to date and relevant information available to it in the course of its screening for appropriate assessment under the EU Habitats Directive.[4] In February 2019 the High Court ordered the developers of the project not to proceed with construction and referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).[5]

By November of 2019, the associated Shannon LNG Terminal had garnered international attention with American celebrities speaking out in opposition.[6] Pope Francis also came out in support of activists opposing the terminal.[7] It's also been a focus of the climate activist group, Extinction Rebellion. The controversy is in part due to the planned use of fracked gas, which is among the dirtiest natural gas sources. If the project goes through, the fracked gas will be imported from America, despite Ireland having banned fracking within its own borders.[8]

In February 2020, Justice Denis McDonald granted leave to FIE to bring the case, meaning he believes the FIE has proven sufficient cause to bring the suit. Justice McDonald stated that he wants the lawsuit to progress rapidly because inclusion of the ECJ may be necessary. The case centers on the decision-making process that led to the inclusion of the project in the fourth EU Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, which was approved in February 2020 by the European Parliament. The case is against the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Ireland and the Attorney General. It also claims that the commission failed to meet its obligations under European regulations to conduct sustainability assessments for any of the PCI projects.[9]

In April 2020, a High Court judge refused the State's request to adjourn the late June 2020 hearing until October 2020. The defendants cited the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that relevant public officials were working remotely and did not have access to all of the files necessary to provide lawyers with full instructions.[10]

On April 30, 2020, the ECJ found that Shannon LNG will have to make a new application from scratch with an Environmental Impact Assessment to comply with the European Union's Habitats Directive. This requirement is expected to cause significant delays in the project.[11]

In September 2020, the ECJ further ruled that planning permission for the Shannon LNG terminal should not have been extended by the Irish Planning Board without the project being subject to a fresh environmental assessment. The ECJ advised the Irish High Court that a new environmental assessment under the EU Habitats Directive must take place. It will now be for the Irish High Court to decide on the case following this referral to the ECJ to seek clarification of EU law. Campaigners against the terminal believe this latest ECJ ruling puts the project's future into even further doubt following the new Irish government's Programme for Government stance against the project. According to FIE, “the judgment is a welcome development of the European Court’s previous jurisprudence and has far reaching implications for other major projects across Europe which will ensure greater protection for the environment”.[12]

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Shannon LNG Terminal and connecting pipeline (IE), European Commission, accessed December 9 2019
  2. "European Court judgment to have major implications for Shannon LNG and beyond". Green News Ireland. 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  3. Protesters stage ‘die-in’ against proposed gas terminal, Green News, February 11, 2019
  4. Environmental group challenges extended permission for LNG terminal in north Kerry, The Irish Times, 19 October 2018.
  5. Developers of Shannon gas processing terminal ordered not to begin construction, Irish Times, Feb. 15, 2019
  6. What is the Shannon LNG terminal and why have Cher and Mark Ruffalo called on Leo Varadkar not to back it?, TheJournal.ie, November 4, 2019
  7. Caroline O'Doherty, Pope backs Shannon fracking critics but Taoiseach keeps project on table, Independant.ie, November 1, 2019
  8. What is the Shannon LNG terminal and why have Cher and Mark Ruffalo called on Leo Varadkar not to back it?, TheJournal.ie, November 4, 2019
  9. Mary Carolan, Legal challenge to Shannon LNG project has EU implications, The Irish Times, February 27, 2020
  10. Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh, Court refuses to adjourn hearing of challenge against Shannon LNG terminal, Breaking News, April 6, 2020
  11. OPINION OF ADVOCATE GENERAL, European Union, April 30, 2020
  12. Kevin O'Sullivan, "EU court delivers blow to plan for Shannon ‘fracked gas’ terminal", The Irish Times, Sep. 10, 2020

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