Tuesday 27 November 2007

Safety fear over plans for gas terminal

Safety was the main concern of residents alongside the country's proposed first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Shannon estuary, a meeting of Kerry County Council heard yesterday.

Fears of explosions and terrorist attack had been raised at local meetings, former senator Cllr Dan Kiely confirmed. However, he and other councillors welcomed the proposal and deemed it "top tier" in terms of hazardous sites and one in which the major accident directive of the EU applied.

At full capacity, up to 125 tankers a year would arrive with gas and this would have "a major impact" on the estuary requiring an exclusion zone around the jetty when the ships arrived. The terminal is planned for a 257-acre site between Tarbert and Ballylongford.

Earlier this year An Bord Plean├íla deemed the €500 million terminal proposal by Shannon LNG (a subsidiary of the US company Hess LNG) a "strategic infrastructure" under the terms of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

The application has gone directly to the planning appeal board, with public submissions closing two weeks ago. The county council finalised its submission at the council's monthly meeting yesterday.

The council believes the proposal had "significant" positive benefits and was not located on land with an amenity designation. It will also say the terminal will not be prejudicial to public health and safety, subject to compliance with conditions.

Senior executive with the council's planning department, Tom Sheehy, assured councillors the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) had also received the planning application and they will report separately to the planning appeal board. The Environmental Protection Agency is also to be involved and will be setting out the monitoring programme to be implemented by Shannon LNG.

An oral hearing was likely to be held on the proposal, Mr Sheehy said. The council wants the developer to contribute over €7.2 million towards infrastructural costs, which include upgrading water supply to the site and buying specialist fire-fighting equipment and training before the terminal is built.

The council is also asking that a bond of €5 million should be lodged to ensure completion of the project. It is also seeking an annual contribution of €200,000 from the developer to the local community.

Up to 750 jobs will be created during the construction of four giant storage tanks, platforms, new marine jetty and associated works.

Anne Lucey
The Irish Times


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