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

Licensing Process
Strategic Develoment of the Shannon Estuary
Controversial Land Rezoning
EU Petition and Findings
Irish Law and Policy
LNG Safety Research
Press Releases

Strategic Development of the Shannon Estuary

Click here for  submissions to the 'Mid West Task Force'
Click here for "Risk Assessment of Marine Operations at LNG Terminal for Shannon Estuary"

On January 22nd, 2010, the EU Commission found that the  Shannon LNG project should have been subjected to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) (see Interim EU Commission findings on EU Petition number 0013 of 2008 page 4 )

These findings by the EU Commission and Parliament is an official acceptance that the LNG tankers pose a danger on both the Estuary waters and adjoining coastlands throughout the entire shipping route of the LNG tankers from the moment they approach the Estuary from the Atlantic Ocean and that an SEA was therefore required.

A Strategic Assessment is required because LNG ships, by their own standards, require a one-mile exclusion zone on safety grounds from ships travelling in front of them and therefore the Shannon LNG project could sterlise the entire Estuary and prevent other developments such as a transhipment hub from being implemented.

The Commission went on to criticise the lack of an SEA for the Shannon LNG project even more directly as follows:

“The Commission is also concerned by the discrepancy in the approach of the Irish authorities in dealing with the development under fast track legislation for 'strategic projects' whilst not requiring an SEA.“

The EU Commission further went on to critiscise the EIA for the Shannon LNG project in stating:

“An EIA has been duly carried out on this project (the Liquefied Natural Gas) and public opinion sought. However, the petitioner presents arguments according to which the project has been sliced (LNG storage, pipeline, road and electricity supply). Project slicing implies the breaking up of one project into different parts. The EIA Directive requires that cumulative (indirect) impacts with other projects have to be identified in the course of the respective impact assessments to ensure that the overall impact of the projects concerned can be assessed. On the basis of the information received, it is not clear whether the cumulative effects have been taken into account in this case.”

The conclusion that the EU Commission came to was:

“On the basis of the further information provided, the Commission has decided to raise the above-mentioned issues with the Irish authorities.”

'Safety Before LNG', vindicated by the EU Commission findings, is now of the opinion that if the Irish Government is to show even token respect for EU Directives requiring comprehensive Strategic and Environmental Assessments then an LNG Marine Risk Assessment must be undertaken along with an SEA before any Foreshore Licence is given. It is impossible to ascertain the cumulative effects of the project if no such assessment is completed.

A Foreshore Licence is a permit to construct the marine aspect of the enitre proposed LNG Teminal covering 25 acres on SAC waters. In January 2010, following the enactment of the Foreshore and Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Act 2009, the Minister of the Environment, Mr. John Gormley, took over responsiblity for issuing Foreshore Licences from the Minister for Agriculture.

We believe that following the EU Commission's interim findings it will be next to impossible for Minister Gormley to issue a Foreshore Licence without the proper assessments as required under EU Directives.

'Safety Before LNG' also believes that Shannon Development deliberately cut corners in the assessment of this project in promotiing the LNG project without any strategic assessment. We now, therefore, fully support the proposals of the McCarthy Report which recommended the discontinuation of an independent Shannon Development at an annual saving of €2 million to the Exchequer.

There are currently at least 4 conflicting Plans proposed for the development of the Shannon Estuary:

  1. A Plan for an intensified electricity-generation hub on the Estuary given the proposed minimum 230 MW gas-fired power generation plan proposed by Shannon LNG adjacent to the proposed LNG terminal at Tarbert (separate to the proposed 450 MW Endesa plant at Tarbert island) under the name “Ballylongford Electricity Company”;
  2. A Plan for a “European Transhipment Hub” or “Global Deepwater Shipping Resource”, supported by Shannon & Foynes Port Company and by the 500-member “Atlantic Way” development agency to take advantage of the widening of the Panama Canal which will, from 2014, be able to take even larger ships across the Atlantic Ocean;
  3. A Plan for a Renewable Energy Hub, under the name “Shannon Energy Valley” being promoted by the University of Limerick, NUI Galway and Silicon Valley’s Irish Technology Leadership Group aiming to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuel imports and
  4. A Plan for an Oil and Gas Storage Hub surrounding the proposed LNG regasification terminal in what would become the most sizeable hazard in Ireland. This project is being pushed by Shannon Development which lost its main job-creation role in July 2005 to the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, but retained its property-management portfolio.
Shannon Development does not receive any government funding and operates entirely from the rental and sales income from its properties.

It owns the land on which the terminal would be built.

It obtained €493,000 from Shannon LNG before the land was even rezoned without any Strategic Assessment (with its director John Brassil voting to rezone the land 'Industrial' at Kerry County Council without declaring any interest in Shannon Development).

We believe it even misrepresented its strategic role as a regional development agency at the An Bord Pleanála Oral Hearing into the LNG terminal by stating that:

“the company's brief is to drive regional economic development in the wider Shannon area, known as the Shannon Region ” .

This project, if it succeeds, will be the largest money-spinner for Shannon Development, ensuring its economic survival as an organisation. Shannon Development, as a property developer and landlord, with the institutionalised culture of an estate agent, has therefore lost its credibility in our eyes. Shannon Development’s level of understanding and awareness of the strategic issues were highlighted at Kerry County Council last Monday when it stated that Shannon LNG

“will stop the process of importing 95% of the country’s gas requirements” (click here to see ‘Kerry’s Eye’, March 25th 2010).

We now fully support the proposals of the McCarthy Report which recommended the discontinuation of an independent Shannon Development at an annual saving of €2 million to the Exchequer. (see the McCarthy Report Page 81-85)

To reinforce our point on mismanagement of state money by Shannon Development, the agency has just developed a so-called “E-town” project at Tarbert which is basically 8 houses with broadband connectivity at a cost of €3 million euros. These 8 houses are now being sold for a total of €2,196,000 (4 at €239,000 and 4 at €310,000 ). An €800,000 loss of tax-payers' money before any property is even sold has just evaporated into what is an outdated concept of people working from houses with access to the internet but possibly with the added charge of commercial rates on those properties when they can do the exact same from their own homes. All this is with the raw sewage outflow pipe to the Estuary nearby because there is no sewage treatment plant in Tarbert.

Cork port, in 2001, commissioned a study to assess what the port needed to provide in order to become a transhipment hub (Report on the Establishment of the Port of Cork as a Transatlantic Container and Trans-shipment Hub”, Nautical Enterprise Centre, Cork, 2001). This is a relevant example of a port and region thinking strategically. In other words, it was studying the physical conditions necessary to have a transhipment hub, not the marketing conditions (which change over time).
If any equivalent report has been undertaken by Shannon Development or Shannon Foynes Port Company, then it has been kept very quiet.
According to the Commissioner of Irish lights, the navigable waters at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary are only 315 metres wide.
At Christmas, a ship got caught in a buoy chain in this area for several days. Shannon Foynes Port Company undertook a marine navigational assessment to prove that ships could travel the Estuary but did not undertake any marine LNG risk assessment to ascertain the sterilising effect exclusion zones around LNG tankers would have on the development of the Estuary as a whole or the cumulative impacts of such a project.

It is impossible to assess the 4 different Plans for the Estuary in order to realise the full potential of the Shannon Estuary Ports without:

  1.  an independent marine LNG risk assessment of the dangers and effects of LNG spills on water (as supported by the European Court of Human Rights for the Milford Haven LNG Plants) and
  2. an independent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the cumulative impacts of the various Plans for the Shannon Estuary (as supported by the European Commission).

Irreversible Strategic Projects should not be developed by cutting corners or without any strategic planning.