A TWO-DAY oral hearing is to be held into the proposal by Spanish energy giant Endesa to build a power plant at the former ESB generating station in Tarbert on the Shannon estuary in Co Kerry.
The hearing into the 450MW natural-gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine is to take place on April 20th and 21st in Listowel, An Bord Pleanála has confirmed.
In late 2009, the planning board deemed the project as “strategic infrastructure”, meaning the proposal goes straight to An Bord Pleanála for a decision, with the local authority, Kerry County Council, playing a consultative role.
Three local authorities – Kerry, Limerick and Clare – are to be invited to make submissions to the hearing along with several environmental groups, including An Taisce, the Heritage Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Regional Fisheries Board.
Other bodies notified include Fáilte Ireland and the National Roads Authority, as well as a number of Government departments.
A decision on the proposal is due by the end of June this year.
The plan by Endesa to replace the 40-year-old ESB power plant at Tarbert with a smaller, more environmentally friendly natural- gas-powered plant will create 500 jobs at the peak of construction, a meeting of Kerry County Council was told recently.
There has been a broad welcome for the proposal for the plant, which is to be supplied by gas from a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification plant and import terminal (also on the estuary near Tarbert) by the Hess corporation.
This marks the area, which is largely owned by Shannon Development, as an energy hub.
Separate oral hearings were also held into the LNG proposal, into the terminal and the pipeline proposal to link the terminal to the national gas grid network 26km away at Foynes. Both were approved.
Both the LNG proposal and Endesa Ireland plant have been deemed to come under “strategic infrastructure” and are being fast-tracked to An Bord Pleanála.
Endesa will apply separately to the council for the demolition of the existing generation plant within six months of the commissioning of the new plant on the 104- acre site, according to a report to a recent county council meeting by planning director Michael McMahon.
Work had not yet started on the Hess LNG plant, as a foreshore licence is still awaited.