Wednesday, 15 October 2008

High Court action against €500m gas terminal gets under way

LEGAL proceedings challenging the proposed development of a €500 million gas terminal near Tarbert in Co Kerry began in the High Court yesterday.

The action is being taken by an environmental group and a local man.

The proceedings have been brought by Friends of the Irish Environment Ltd (FIE) and Mr Raymond O’Mahony, a welder and member of the Kilcolgan Residents Association, of Kilcolgan, Tarbert.

Both are objecting to the proposed development by Shannon LNG Ltd of a liquid natural gas terminal at Kilcolgan. Mr O’Mahony says he is extremely concerned about the safety of himself and his family and at how the Heath and Safety Authority (HSA) has dealt with issues concerning the terminal.

The proceedings were initiated in the High Court earlier this year and admitted to the Commercial Court list which fast-tracks commercial disputes on the application of Shannon LNG. Permission for the development was granted by An Bord Pleanála on March 31.

The case before Mr Justice John MacMenamin is expected to continue for several days.

Shannon LNG claims it had spent €15m related to the proposed development by the end of April last, and that any delay in progressing the development will have significant commercial consequences for the company. It is aiming to have the facility operational by 2012 or 2013, it said.

In its judicial review application, FIE claims the HSA had failed to give proper technical advice on the control of major accident hazards relating to the development as required by domestic and European law. It also claims the State failed to properly transpose four relevant EU directives relating to 1) controlling major accident hazards; 2) the assessment of certain projects and their impacts on the environment; 3) birds; and 4) habitats.

Mr Oisin Collins, counsel for the FIE, submitted the HSA had decided major accident regulations applied to the proposed development, but the HSA’s consequent technical advice on the development was inadequate.

Mr O’Mahony is seeking declarations that the HSA failed to give proper technical advice concerning the proposed development and also failed to properly transpose a number of relevant EU directives.

He claims he is entitled to have the decision reviewed in a fair and timely manner and also claims that the manner in which the HSA and An Bord Pleanála have exercised their statutory functions breaches his rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. As the proceedings were likely to be very costly, he claims he is entitled to a protective costs order, or some other means of ensuring he is not burdened with prohibitive costs.

Irish Examiner

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