Today the Irish Government
published its long-awaited and welcome policy against fracked gas imports
as was agreed in the 'Programme For
We strongly welcome the statement
in this historic, world's-first, anti-fracked gas import policy that "the
Government will work with international partners to promote the phasing out of
fracking at an international level" and now want the government to
move immediately to implement this new policy by agreeing to propose a resolution
calling for a global ban on fracking at the United Nations.
On April 22nd,
people in the Irish anti-fracking movement sent an official request to the
Irish government asking it to table a resolution at the United Nations calling
for a global ban on fracking. Over 500 groups of NGOS, scientists, academics
and grassroots activists have already signed up to a petition supporting such
an initiative, which states:
the undersigned, support
a call for a global ban on fracking being proposed by Ireland at the United
Nations General Assembly on climate-mitigation, public-health,
environmental-protection and human-rights grounds”?
We believe that the official policy commitment
that "the Government will work with international partners to
promote the phasing out of fracking at an international level" now
puts even more of an obligation and a duty on the Government to agree to pursue
a global ban on fracking at the United Nations.
The policy decision stated:
"In order to implement the
Programme for Government commitment that it does not support the
fracked gas, the Government has approved that:
• pending the outcome of the review of the security of energy supply of
Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems, it would not be
the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland to be permitted or
• the Government will work with like-minded European States to promote
support changes to European energy laws – in particular the upcoming
of the European Union’s Gas Directive and Gas Regulation – in order to
the importation of fracked gas to be restricted; and
• the Government will work with international partners to promote the
out of fracking at an international level within the wider context of
phasing out of fossil fuel extraction."
we welcome the policy statement against fracked gas imports we have
very grave concerns:
Not Banning LNG
terminals importing fracked gas
The policy statement accepts that "the
highest risk of fracked gas being imported into Ireland on a large-scale would
be via liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, if any were to be constructed."
However, it then states that the Department "is currently carrying out a review of the security
of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems" and that the "review will consider if it would be appropriate, or
not, to develop LNG terminals in Ireland".
the policy statement is "to
implement the Programme for Government commitment that it does not support the
importation of fracked gas" then it is a huge contradiction to put a
moratorium on LNG terminals in place only until a review is completed into
whether it is appropriate to build LNG terminals which would import fracked gas
"on a large scale". That
is extremely worrying and will have to
be dealt with in the Climate Bill. How could it ever be
considered appropriate by the government to develop LNG terminals in
Ireland importing fracked gas if the government really does not support
the importation of fracked gas? Is the policy really saying that the
country does not support importing fracked gas but may yet decide that
it is appropriate to do so via LNG terminals which it admits would
import fracked gas on a large-scale? That is a contradiction. And
the Policy statement has no Attorney General opinion on a ban on LNG
terminals importing fracked gas.
However, equally, the Draft National Marine Planning Framework approved by Cabinet on March 23rd, has a further nationally-approved policy against fracked gas imports where it states:
"Transmission Policy 6
Subject to required assessments for the protection of the environment, and only where in keeping
with the outcome of the review of the security of energy supply of Ireland’s electricity and natural
gas systems (which is being carried out by Department of the Environment, Climate and
Communications), and not involving the importation of fracked gas, additional proposals for
natural gas transmission/import infrastructure should be supported."
the Shannon LNG fracked gas
On March 1st, Shannon LNG confirmed
to the Department
for the Environment that it it is in "pre-application
consultation with An Bord Pleanala" and that it would "launch
a public information event shortly, and subject to ABP's guidance,
application quickly thereafter".
pre-application consultation can be seen here.
policy statement only says "it
not be appropriate for the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland
permitted or proceeded with"
but this will
not be enough to stop Shannon LNG from launching a full planning
the status of ''overriding public interest' because the Department
argued in the High
Court that Shannon LNG
should be kept on the 4th PCI List. Shannon
holds the status of EU Project of Common Interest until early 2022 due to
4th-PCI-listed status [see footnote 2]. If the written policy against
gas imports and LNG terminals is not acted upon immediately then the
will likely succeed in getting planning permission as it is still a
currently deemed to be in the overriding public interest.
highlighted by us on April
14th, we therefore
need the Minister for Planning to formally immediately implement
policy and issue the published policy against fracked gas imports and
terminals as guidelines to both An Bord Pleanala and all
Authorities under Section 28 of the Planning
and Development Act, 2000
which states “The Minister may, at any time, issue guidelines
authorities regarding any of their functions under this Act and
authorities shall have regard to those guidelines in the performance of
these guidelines must then be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Banning Fracked Gas
Imports in the
background the policy statement revealed that:
placing of a legal
prohibition on the importation of fracked gas in national legislation
considered and legal advice has been provided by the Attorney General.
context of European Union Treaties and the laws governing the internal
market, it is considered that a legal ban on the importation of fracked
could not be put in place at this time".
legal advice from the Attorney General now needs to be presented to the
Committee as it considers amendments to the Climate Bill, which will
include a legal ban on the importation of fracked gas.
February, a Joint
by the Irish
Centre for Human Rights’
Human Rights Law Clinic and local NGOs
campaigning against LNG terminals, Fracking and Fracked Gas Imports
of the Earth’,
on the Government to implement a ban on the
importation of fracked gas in the Climate Action and Low Carbon
(Amendment) Bill 2020 ('Climate Bill'). The Joint
on the Government to insert into the Climate Bill a section that amends
Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 in order to prohibit
importation or sale of fracked gas into Ireland.
responding to the recommendation by
the Joint Committee on Climate
Action in its pre-legislative scrutiny report of the Climate Bill “that
Minister address in the Bill and/or revert to the Committee with a
comprehensive plan to ban the importation of fracked gas and
ban LNG terminals in Ireland within the year 2021”.
that the proposed
statutory ban is compatible with EU, EFTA and WTO trade rules. A
import ban would demonstrate a willingness to tackle the world’s
super emitter of methane and one of the worst contributors to climate
would also demonstrate solidarity and empathy with
Pennsylvania, Texas, Northern Ireland, Botswana, Namibia, Colombia,
and elsewhere affected by, or threatened with, the scourge of
Such a ban would set Ireland on course to become a Global Climate
Ireland would be the first country in the world to ban the importation
fracked gas having already implemented a legislative ban on fracking
The global trade in LNG is being fuelled by the boom
in climate-destructive fracking and both are inextricably linked.
policy statement is now clearly not enough
because it will only last for the lifetime of this government, whereas
legislation in the climate bill will send a true climate-leadership
that Ireland will be the first country in the world to have a
on fracked gas imports. The Shannon LNG fracked gas import project has
been on the table for over 14 years now
and this project and all fracked gas import projects must be stubbed
out, once and for all, to give certainty to
the market, to legislators and to the public at large.
addition the Irish
Centre for Human Rights’
Human Rights Law Clinic is about
to launch a new report on May
24th on the
adverse International Human Rights Implications of unconventional oil and gas
extraction which will further inform the Climate Committee in
its consideration of amendments to put a fracked gas import ban into
the Climate Bill. This report has
importantly highlighted that fracking has wide-ranging impacts on many
rights including the right to water, the right to food, the right to
the right to access to information, the right to public participation
right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, with
these rights having disproportionate impacts on marginalised and
communities and groups. One of the conclusions of the report states
through its emission of greenhouse gases and contribution to climate
the immediate environmental, social and public health impacts it causes
surrounding communities, poses numerous threats for the enjoyment and
of human rights".
In addition the door on developing LNG terminals,
which is how fracked gas would entered the system on a massive scale, is still
being kept open by the policy statement pending the outcome of a review. It would seem that the Government is acting on
the side of caution to the advantage of the fracking industry. These doors must
be closed definitively with legislation.
Documents released under AIE
March 1st 2021 from
New Fortress Energy to the Department for the Environment confirming
that it is
in "pre-application consultation with An Bord Pleanala" and that it
would "launch a public information event shortly, and subject to ABP's
guidance, submit the application quickly thereafter".
1 to email
dated March 13th, 2021 confirming "AECOM are
working on behalf
of Shannon LNG Limited to progress the planning application".
2 to email dated
March 13th, 2021 with technical details of proposed Shannon LNG Fracked
import terminal (heavily redacted).
emails on Shannon
LNG application to EPA and Department of Environment.
As long as Shannon LNG lodges a new
application before the 5th PCI list comes in to being, then it retains
status of PCI throughout the permit granting process. The
timing of when
it makes the application is what is important under article 5 of the
which are no longer on
the Union list shall lose all rights and obligations linked to the
project of common interest arising from this Regulation. However, a
which is no longer on the Union list but for which an application file
accepted for examination by the competent authority shall maintain the
and obligations arising from Chapter III, except where the project is
on the list for the reasons set out in paragraph 8."
7 of the PCI regulation 347/2013 states:
such status exists in
national law, projects of common interest shall be allocated the status
highest national significance possible and be treated as such in permit
granting processes — and if national law so provides, in spatial
including those relating to environmental assessments, in the manner
treatment is provided for in national law applicable to the
of energy infrastructure." and
the environmental impacts addressed in Article 6(4) of Directive
Article 4(7) of Directive 2000/60/EC, projects of common interest shall
considered as being of public interest from an energy policy
may be considered as being of overriding public interest, provided that
conditions set out in these Directives are fulfilled".
3 confers even more priority status for
a PCI project:
of common interest
included on the Union list pursuant to paragraph 4 of this Article
an integral part of the relevant regional investment plans under
Article 12 of
Regulations (EC) No 714/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009 and of the relevant
10-year network development plans under Article 22 of Directives
2009/73/EC and other national infrastructure plans concerned, as
Those projects shall be conferred the highest possible priority within
Shannon LNG Fracked gas import terminal
project had been added to the 4th PCI List by DG Energy with no
assessment - a fact noted by the EU
its report on November 17th 2020.
Safety Before LNG