Planning for Shannon LNG terminal referred to Europe

Industry on the Shannon estuary

Tim Healy

THE High Court has referred to Europe a number of questions relating to a five-year extension of planning permission for a liquid gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons has asked the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to give a preliminary ruling on a number of questions raised in a case brought by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) against An Bord Pleanála.

The board granted the five-year extension for the development to Shannon LNG which is a notice party in the case. The project will include the construction of four large tanks, jetties to receive ships, and associated works at Kilcolgan, near Tarbet in north Co Kerry.

FIE claims Bord Pleanála failed to take account of the possibility of the significant effects the proposed development will have on local wildlife and flora, including Bottlenosed Dolphins in Lower River Shannon special area of conservation.

FIE also claims there was a failure to take account of the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 which is intended to drive Ireland's transition in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The dispute centres on whether the five-year permission extension engages the EU Habitats Directive which means the planning authority is obliged to fulfil certain procedural requirements before agreeing to a project which is likely to have a significant effect on a European conservation site.

In the circumstances, the judge decided it was necessary to refer a number of questions to the CJEU for preliminary ruling.

These include whether the five-year extension decision constitutes the agreement of a project such to trigger the Habitats Directive.

The judge adjourned the matter generally pending a decision of the CJEU.