AN BORD Pleanála has granted permission for the construction of a 26km underground pipeline to link the country’s first liquefied natural gas terminal at the Shannon estuary in Co Kerry to the existing natural gas network in Co Limerick.
The proposal for the €500 million regassification terminal on Shannon Development land near Tarbert has already received permission.
The applications for the terminal and the pipeline by Shannon LNG, a subsidiary of the giant US Hess corporation, were dealt with separately.
Both were fast-tracked to an Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, and an oral hearing was held in each case.
The appeals board said it had regard for the National Development Plan regarding security of energy supply and the Kerry County Development Plan in granting permission for the pipeline which will connect with the natural gas grid at Leahy’s near Foynes, Co Limerick.
The board has directed that a section of the pipe be rerouted so as not to interfere with an area of fen west of the N69 at Doonard Upper.
It has also directed that geotechnical surveys be carried out in areas of peat to be crossed by the pipe, and that “no peat be removed off site”.
The board says this is for health and safety reasons and to prevent water pollution. (The issue of soil disturbance on areas of peatland was raised during the hearing).
Some 17 conditions have been imposed by the board, including that surveys on breeding sites of badgers, otters and bats be carried out before work begins.
Archaeological monitoring of all excavations will be carried out.
The pipe will cross 20 roads, three rivers, 11 streams, farmland and forestry, and involve 72 landowners, the hearing in Listowel was told in December.
The terminal will take four years, and the pipeline will begin in the fourth year.
The route is along the southern side of the estuary to avoid interference with the ecologically-important Shannon estuary, a special protected area, said representatives of Shannon LNG. It was also the cheapest of the three routes considered.
The hearing was told wayleaves had been agreed with most landowners, and acquisitions were being sought in the case of five to six properties.
However, the main objectors’ group , Safety Before LNG, said it was challenging the decision under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 .
It has asked the board to rule whether work associated with the terminal was or was not development.
Spokesman John McElligott said their challenge was supported by actor Pierce Brosnan, MEP Kathy Sinnott , Friends of the Irish Environment and others.