Safety Before LNG
Exposing the truth about the Hess 'Shannon LNG' project
Negative Effects on the Shannon Estuary
Nevada LNG Explosion

Press Releases

Press Release February 8th 2018:
An Bord Pleanála, in a breach of trust, decides that extending the expiring planning permission for the proposed Shannon LNG terminal is a "Material Change" and then, 26 days later, changes its mind.

Claims Double Decisioning of same case a breach of An Bord Pleanála Code of Conduct. 

In an unprecedented move in Irish Planning history, An Bord Pleanála has reversed one of its own planning decisions it made 26 days previously to the advantage of Shannon LNG -  a double-decisioning of the same case which represents, in our view, a breach of  An Bord Pleanála's own Code of Conduct which  members of the Board are statutorily obliged to comply with. We are concerned that An Bord Pleanála is not showing the maximum degree of accountability consistent with the quasi-judicial nature of the Board’s functions.

On March 31st 2018 -  next month - planning permission for the proposed controversial Shannon LNG project will expire. The now shelf-company-owned Shannon LNG has paid €30,000 to make an application to An Bord Pleanála directly under the Strategic Infrastructure Act 2006 to extend the planning for another 5 years with no decision-making role for the local authority Kerry County Council.

In deciding whether to refuse permission to extend planning permission 2 major decisions are required.
The first, the most difficult to overcome, is whether extending planning permission constitutes a material change.
If the change is deemed material then a second decision is required on whether the changes would have "significant effects on the environment".
This second decision was considered by environmental groups to be the easiest to prove since the land is currently agricultural grazing land and no development has taken place in the 10 years.
If the alteration is deemed both material and having a significant effect on the environment then it is almost certain that Shannon LNG would be refused permission to extend planning permission beyond the 10 years at the end of next month.

An Bord Pleanála made the first decision that it was a material change and ordered a public consultation on the second easier question on whether the changes would have significant effects on the environment.

However, 26 days later, the Board, without any legal reason provided, and without any provision in legislation, overturned its own planning decision to the benefit of the shelf-company-owned Shannon LNG and has asked for a public consultation on the material change with only 14 days’ notice.

This revocation of its own planning decision by An Bord Pleanála is a cause for grave concern and is, in our opinion, an abuse of process and a sleight of hand.

An Bord Pleanála has the power of the Higher Courts and its decisions can only be challenged on a point of law, process or fact in the High Court.
That the Board could make a decision, inform in writing all parties to the planning application of this decision and then 26 days later change its mind without any explanation brings into question the independence of the The Board and is, what we consider to be, a breach of Trust.

Does this mean that when anybody receives a letter from An Bord Pleanála, they can now assume that the decision in the letter might not be true at all and may be revoked a few weeks later? This is setting a dangerous precedent which may be used in court proceedings in the future.

The question that has to be asked is: Is there undue external pressure on An Bord Pleanála or a conflict of interest within members of An Bord Pleanála that allows its decisions on the Shannon LNG project to be changed at will?

A higher standard is expected of  An Bord Pleanála when it is dealing with applications through the Strategic Infrastructure Act 2006 that bypass local authorities as in this case and  which have no process of appeal of planning issues other than through the Courts which is mainly the reserve of the rich. 
We also believe that this double decisioning by An Bord Pleanála is a clear breach of the Code of Conduct, which by law it is obliged to uphold.

We are not now convinced that  An Bord Pleanála is carrying out its work in an independent manner that embodies the public service ethos of integrity, impartiality and a desire to serve the public interest while giving due consideration to all legitimate viewpoints and interests.

We are especially concerned that An Bord Pleanála is not showing the maximum degree of accountability consistent with the quasi-judicial nature of the Board’s functions. The Code of Conduct states that it is essential that proper procedures are followed in the interests of fairness and of natural and constitutional justice. Proper procedures are clearly not being followed in this instance. The code of Conduct also obliges The Board "to ensure that decisions are based on clearly stated considerations and reasons." No reason for the double decisioning was given in this instance either.


On January 11th 2018 An Bord Pleanála informed Shannon LNG that:  

"the Board has decided, in accordance with section 146B(2)(b) of the Act, that the proposed alteration would constitute a material alteration to the terms of the development".

The Board directed that Shannon LNG advertise in two newspapers that submissions or observations could be made in writing to the Board within a period of 4 week on whether the alteration would have "significant effects on the environment".

The Board sent this information to all individuals and groups who made submissions to the original planning ten years previously informing them of this decision.

However, on February 6th 2018 - An Bord Pleanála wrote to all the same people and groups it had written to 26 days earlier to inform them that
"The Board has subsequently revised the letter which issued to Shannon LNG"
and was now inviting submissions before it decided whether the extension of planning was a material change  - something it had already decided. In addition, the public would only have 14 days to submit submissions on this altered question, instead of the standard 4 weeks.

- Ends -

Notes to the Editor:

The American Company Hess that created the Irish Subsidiary Shannon LNG for the purpose of the proposed LNG plant has completely abandoned the project - both publicly and legally. Shannon LNG has now became little more than a shelf company entirely owned by Sambolo Resources, a company registered in Dublin whose 2 shareholders are the CEO of Shannon LNG (Paddy Power) and his son John with  Sarah Govereny  as company secretary.
2. The owner of the land, Shannon Properties (formerly known as Shannon Development), has put the land up for sale and is just trying to sweat the asset as land with planning permission for an LNG terminal.

 11 January Letter of An Bord Pleanal on Material Change

6 Feb letter An Bord Pleanal not Material Change