Monday 15 October 2007

€400m gas terminal likely as company and farmers reach agreement

THE building of a €400 million gas terminal near Ballylongford on the Shannon Estuary has moved a step closer following the agreement of a comprehensive package of measures between farmers and the terminal construction company Shannon LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

The company is applying for planning permission to build four major tanks on the 280-acre site, part of a 600-acre industrial landbank left undeveloped since the late 1960s.

Some of the issues discussed with farmers include the reinstatement of lands, the appointment of an agriculture liaison officer and the notification of entry onto lands.

It is expected that more than 350 jobs will be provided during the construction of the liquefied natural gas terminal. Fifty long-term staff will be employed when the terminal starts operating.

The plan is to bring liquefied natural gas from countries such as Algeria by tanker to the terminal where it will be stored in the tanks. A new 30-km pipeline will be built to transport the gas to the national gas pipeline system, east of the site.

The grid crosses the Shannon, west of Foynes, and the route of the high strength steel pipe will take it south of Tarbert, Co Kerry and Glin and Loughill, Co Limerick.

Shannon LNG is aiming to keep the local community informed at all stages of the plan and a steering group from the Ballylongford/Tarbert area has already visited similar LNG projects in Wales, Belgium and Spain.

An environmental impact statement (EIS) assessed the effects the development would have on the local ecology and on heritage and conservation sites.

The Shannon Estuary is an important location for bottlenose dolphins and acoustic devices have found that the dolphins pass through the proposed site for two jetties (small piers).

The site will be monitored during the construction of the jetties, which will be built on piles or deep foundations, to ensure dolphins can pass through.

Pile-driving work will be subject to agreement with the National Parks and Wildlife Service .

Small populations of pipestrelle bats were found in a derelict farmhouse, which is due for demolition, and it is hoped the bats will relocate to another roosting site.

Frogs will also lose habitat, but a pond offering them a breeding ground is to be created.

According to the EIS, construction will not impact on any recorded heritage sites, or monuments. A ring fort on the boundary will not be affected as a development-free zone will be created around it.

Kerry County Council has rezoned the site from rural general and secondary special amenity to industrial status.

With gas sources depleting at Kinsale Head and the North Sea, Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin has said the Ballylongford project has the potential to secure Ireland’s long-term supply of natural gas.

Irish Examiner

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