An Bord Pleanála has refused permission for the proposed Shannon Technology and Energy Park on the River Shannon near Ballylongford, Co. Kerry. The application by Shannon LNG Ltd was for a Liquified Natural Gas terminal to receive and process fracked gas transported by ship from abroad. In its decision ABP made reference to the Shannon bottlenose dolphin population stating
The Board expressed a concern as to the absence of precise detail in a number of areas namely, the form, nature and precise extent of piling to be undertaken, and a clear assessment of all potential acoustic impacts on the natural condition of critical bottlenose dolphin habitat and their behaviour therein…
The primary reason given for refusal was that the development would be contrary to government policies, in particular the Policy Statement on the Importation of Fracked Gas (May 2021); the National Marine Planning Framework (2020); the National Energy Security Framework (2022); and the National Energy & Climate Plan 2021-2030. ABP stated
it is considered that the development at this time would be contrary to the current government policy, and in the absence of such policy support, such development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
The IWDG welcomes the decision on the basis that the importation of environmentally damaging fracked gas contradicts all current efforts to transition to renewable energy sources and is encouraged that acoustic impacts to protected cetacean species are central to planning decisions in the marine environment. Managing and mitigating for the underwater noise generated by piling is becoming a topic of central importance to the IWDG as offshore windfarm construction rolls out in Irish waters, potentially as soon as 2026.
Dr Stephen Comerford,
IWDG Marine Policy Officer