A €500 MILLION liquified natural gas facility, which was the first project to be "fast tracked" under the 2006 Strategic Infrastructure Act, may now be held up by legal actions that have been filed in the High Court.
The Kilcolgan Residents' Association and the Friends of the Irish Environment have each lodged proceedings against the decision by An Bórd Pleanála to grant planning permission to Shannon LNG to build a terminal near Tarbert, Co Kerry, in the Shannon Estuary.
Permission was granted in April after an application was lodged directly in September 2007 to An Bord Pleanála, rather than to the local planning authority, as would normally be the case.
A spokesman for Shannon LNG had no comment to make when contacted yesterday. The company is a subsidiary of the Hess LNG group in the US.
The residents' association said it was seeking a judicial review on safety, environmental and procedural grounds. No emergency plan exists for the proposed development and no marine risk assessment has been completed, it said. It also said that, during an oral hearing on the planning application held in Tralee in January, it was revealed that Kerry County Council had refused to undertake a strategic environmental assessment before rezoning the site industrial. It said this was contrary to Irish and European law.
The respondents in the case are An Bord Pleanála and the Health and Safety Authority.
Friends of the Irish Environment said it was seeking a judicial review and that the decision by An Bord Pleanála infringed "at least" five EU directives.
The plan for the terminal was first announced in May 2006. It is envisaged by Shannon LNG that construction of the facility will take three years from when construction work begins.
The terminal is to be constructed on 281 acres of 600 acres of Shannon Development owned land between Tarbert and Ballylongford, Co Kerry.
The site, which has been designated by Shannon Development for deep-water projects, is about 25 km from the national gas pipeline grid.
The terminal will provide about 50 long-term jobs and 350 jobs on average over the life of the construction programme, according to Shannon LNG.
At the time permission was granted for the development, Shannon LNG said it was conscious that the proposed development would be one of the largest construction projects to take place in the north Kerry region.
"We will progress the development in ongoing consultation with the local community in order to minimise inconvenience and disturbance. Once operational, the terminal will be a very quiet and clean facility," it said.
About 60 per cent of Ireland's electricity is generated using natural gas. The proposed terminal will allow Ireland to access multiple sources of gas from around the world, delivering greater security and diversity of energy supply, according to Shannon LNG.
Liquified natural gas is gas converted to liquid by reducing it to below minus 160 degrees. This reduces the volume of the gas and makes it suitable for transportation by sea.