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21 September, 2022 | 06:32 PM

Kerry County Council says €4.1m paid by Shannon LNG not related to controversial gas terminal plan

Kerry County Council says €4.1m paid by Shannon LNG not related to controversial gas terminal plan
Kerry County Council has said €4.1m in payments it received from Shannon LNG are not connected to the company’s proposal to build a gas terminal. I t said payments were made to fund road works as part of conditions attached to planning permissions granted to the company in 2008 for an LNG plant and in 2013 for a related heat and power plant. Those developments, backed by the council and approved by An Bord Pleanála, did not proceed, however, and the 2008 permission expired. The 2013 permission has not yet expired but the development would be dependent on the construction of the LNG facility. Shannon LNG now has a fresh planning application for an LNG terminal and associated power plant with An Bord Pleanála for the same site located between Tarbert and Ballylongford. A statement from the council said: “The works that Kerry County Council has carried out as a road authority in this instance are not connected to and are independent to the outcome of any planning application that is currently before An Bord Pleanala in respect of proposed development at the Tarbert-Ballylongford Landbank.” Campaigners opposed to the project want to know, however, why the council took €1.65m in two separate payments from Shannon LNG in 2009 when the development approved the previous year was not proceeding. Safety Before LNG also want to know why a further €2.4m was received from Shannon LNG in five separate payments in 2020 and 2021 while the company was preparing its current planning application. Read More Shannon LNG protestor: ‘We don’t need LNG. There would probably only be 30 odd jobs for local people’ Kerry LNG row: protest letters sent to businesses over alleged link with US company Shannon LNG paid Kerry County Council €4.1m in relation to controversial gas project it may never build The group has written to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, who has responsibility for planning, asking him to investigate the payments. Daily Digest Newsletter Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter. Enter email address This field is required Sign Up “We request that this money should be immediately ring-fenced, relinquished or confiscated,” they wrote. They said they had serious concerns about the transparency of the planning process. They are particularly concerned that two payments, totalling €625,000, were made on the day Shannon LNG met with officials of Kerry County Council last year to discuss the council’s support for the fresh planning application. Kerry County Council has not addressed questions around the timing of these payments. The Department of Housing said Mr O’Brien could not comment on a live planning case. Kerry County Council is not the decision-making authority on Shannon LNG’s planning application as it qualifies as strategic infrastructure which goes straight to An Bord Pleanála for determination. The council’s opinion, which is fully behind the project, is taken into account, however. The project’s inclusion in a local development plan is also a point in its favour. Doubts hang over its chances of being approved after an energy security review published by Government this week concludes a permanently, privately-owned LNG facility would not provide energy security and would breach coalition climate and environmental policies. The council’s statement said there was no question of the payments having to be returned if the development does not get permission. “Any monies received by Kerry County Council relate to the L1010 road improvement works referenced in the 2008 and 2013 planning conditions, are non-refundable, and have been fully expended on the project,” it said. Read More Shannon LNG protestor: ‘We don’t need LNG. There would probably only be 30 odd jobs for local people’ Kerry LNG row: protest letters sent to businesses over alleged link with US company Shannon LNG paid Kerry County Council €4.1m in relation to controversial gas project it may never build