US actor Mark Ruffalo has described the Irish planning board’s decision to refuse planning permission for a €650 million liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in County Kerry as a “tremendous victory” for local communities.
An Bord Pleanála rejected planning permission for an LNG terminal at the Shannon Estuary near Ballylongford in County Kerry in an 8-2 majority verdict on Friday.
The decision was based on the Irish Government’s policy on the importation of fracked gas, with An Bord Pleanála deciding that it would be inappropriate to proceed with any LNG terminals while a review of the energy supply was ongoing.
Shannon LNG had been seeking permission for a €650 million development, including a 600MW power plant and an LNG terminal.
The proposal indicated that the LNG would be shipped to Ireland by large tankers and re-gasified on-site before being placed on the national grid.
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan welcomed the decision, stating that Ireland could not expand its use of fossil fuels.
“At a time when the world is burning, we cannot expand our use of fossil fuels. We have to switch from electricity to wind,” Ryan said in response to the decision.
Ryan said the Irish Government’s review of energy security will be published within two or three weeks and hinted that the review could recommend some form of LNG, although it would be strategic and not commercial.
Ryan also said he expects to see significant investment in Limerick, Kerry, and Clare to tap into offshore wind.
Ruffalo, an environmental advocate who has campaigned against fracking in Ireland and around the world for over a decade, praised Ryan for making climate policy a priority.
“Ireland’s rejection of the Shannon LNG terminal is a tremendous victory for local communities and the climate, Ruffalo told IrishCentral in a statement.
“That project would have imported fracked gas from the United States and posed significant public health and safety risks to the Irish. The denial of this permit happened because of the Irish government’s policy statement to stop the import of fracked gas as well as other national policies.
“The Green Party, under the leadership of Minister Eamon Ryan, has been instrumental in making climate a national priority and local groups have been raising the alarm and organizing for years.
“Today Ireland's clean energy future is very bright. This should be seen as a model to other western nations and lead the way forward on quickly transitioning away from fossil fuels, creating more jobs with renewables and saving an ailing planet.”
However, Councilor Jim Finucane, Mayor of Kerry, criticized the decision and called for Ryan to resign.
Finucane told RTÉ Radio that the local reaction to the decision is “one of total shock and dismay”.
“There is a huge amount of anger,” Finucane told RTÉ. “This whole process was a farce.”
Finucane said it was “nonsensical” that the Department of the Environment’s report into Ireland’s energy security has not been published yet.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had not yet read the decision but said he believed it would upset people in north Kerry.
Fracked gas is natural gas that is produced by forcing apart rock seams deep underground by pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure. Its use is banned onshore in legislation in Ireland since 2017 due to the environmental risk it poses.
LNG can be from fracked gas or conventionally extracted gas. It generally has a higher carbon footprint than natural gas supplied via pipeline due to the energy required to liquefy, transport and regasify the natural gas.