THE Commission for Energy Regulation, which threw the future of the LNG project on the Ballylongford landbank into uncertainty last year when it sought tariffs for the gas industry, is now supporting the project at EU level.
Labour TD for north Kerry Arthur J Spring this week signalled that the LNG project had gained the backing of the CER and the Department of Energy for grant- aid from Europe. The Government and the CER's support for the project was flagged in a letter from the Department to the EU.
Shannon LNG are pressing ahead, meanwhile, with a judicial review to be heard in the Commercial Court next month of the CER's tarrif decision.
The Kerryman understands that the Shannon LNG company behind the plans regard the move as a significant step in their efforts to establish the plant.
This is the latest twist in a long- running saga that has tested the patience of everyone in Tarbert and Ballylongford who view the promised plant as a vital step towards the economic recovery of their area.
However, it was thrown into major doubt last year when the CER published details of its plans for tariffs on the gas industry.
The plans provided for a hefty annual levy on the Shannon LNG company to pay for the upkeep of gas pipelines operated by Bord Gáis between Ireland and the UK.
Shannon LNG made the point that it would never use the pipelines and the company is of the view it should never have to pay a tarrif.
The CER, however, says it is solely concerned with protecting the Irish consumer and that if Bord Gáis was forced to carry the cost of the pipelines alone this could have the effect of raising gas prices.