Monday 21 January 2008

First oral hearing under new fast-track planning system opens

The first public hearing to be conducted under a new fast-track planning process for major infrastructural developments will begin today.

A €500 million gas terminal at the Shannon estuary in Co Kerry is the first project to be advanced to An Bord Pleanála oral hearing stage under the new Strategic Infrastructure Act.

The Act was introduced in 2006 to stop delays in the planning system.

It allows developers to bypass county council planners and go directly to An Bord Pleanála for permission.

The hearing, on the country's first liquified natural gas terminal, will be held in the Brandon Hotel in Tralee from today.

The board has scheduled a week of sittings.

However, with 64 submissions made in relation to the application, it could take longer.

The hearing will have the same format as all other Board Pleanála public hearings.

The applicants, Shannon LNG, will present their case for the development before third parities are given an opportunity to ask questions and outline their concerns.

The terminal project will require the significant upgrading of roads, fire service and water services in north Kerry. It will involve huge gas storage tanks, a new marine jetty and unloading equipment as well as warehousing and stores and water pump houses.

At full capacity up to 125 tankers a year would arrive with gas and this will require an exclusion zone around the jetty when the ships arrive.

Up to 750 jobs will be created during the height of the construction phase.

A second strategic infrastructure hearing, in relation to an application by the Quinn Group for a natural gas turbine station at Toomes, Co Louth, will be held on Monday week at the Nuremore Hotel in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

The company says the plant will be able to supply power to 230,000 homes.

The Irish Times

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