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Fresh legal challenge for Shannon LNG

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Leave has been granted to an environmental group to challenge the decision of the State and the European Commission to include the proposed Shannon LNG gas terminal for the EU’s list of priority energy projects.

By Alex Craker

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have challenged the project and its connecting pipeline becoming a Project of Common Interest (PCI) and were granted leave to do so by The High Court on Thursday.

PCI projects are ‘of public interest from an energy policy perspective and may be considered as being of overriding public interest’, as well as qualifying for financial support. The FIE has alleged that both Ireland and the EU failed to do the required independent sustainability, climate and cost-benefit analysis required before the legislation allows designation of the terminal as a ‘Project of Common Interest’.

According to Tony Lowes, director of FIE, there are “four different assessments to be made” and “sustainability and climate is one, which they didn’t even look at.” As well as this he says that both Ireland and the commission “failed to ensure that the legal requirements were met and I think both sides…,admit this but they say that ‘we’ll do it right in two years’ time’ and we’re saying ‘no, you’ll do it right now’ because we haven’t got an extra two years to throw around.”

Lowes goes on to say that the bottlenose dolphins are at risk in that area, “We’re obliged to protect them under European obligations.” He also claims that in doing this we are “locking ourselves into fossil fuels and fracked gas.” A counterpoint to this is that the terminal and its pipeline could be a solution to future energy needs, as said by Leo Varadkar back in last November “it could be part of the answer to that.”

The challenge is currently awaiting an opinion from the Advocate General, which is expected to be on 20 April 2020. Lowes expects, in making this challenge that “they would have to come back with a new proposal.” He concluded by saying “it’ll take them time, and time is one thing that a lot of these businesses don’t have.”

Shannon LNG has faced strong criticism from scientists, activists and even Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo over the high likelihood that the project will see fracked US gas imported to Ireland despite a national ban on the practise here.

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