European court publishes judgement on Shannon LNG challenge

The European Court of Justice has said An Bord Pleanála should have required new environmental assessments before granting an extension of planning to the Shannon LNG project.

The High Court had requested a ruling from the court in proceedings between Friends of the Irish Environment and An Bord Pleanála, concerning a decision to grant the additional period of five years for the construction of a LNG terminal.

In March 2008, permission was granted for the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal on the River Shannon estuary, with consent given that the works were to be carried out within 10 years.

However, in September 2017, construction of the terminal had not begun, so the developer applied to An Bord Pleanála for an extension of permission.

The following year an additional period of five years was granted, a move that was challenged by Friends of the Irish Environment.

The High Court sought guidance from the European Court of Justice on the issue.

Today, the European court advised the extension to the 2008 planning permission must be considered a new permit under the Habitats Directive and, therefore, must be subject to a new assessment.

Responsibility for a final decision now rests with the High Court.

However, this ruling may have no material impact; Current owner, New Fortress Energy, has indicated it intends to lodge a new planning application later this year for a floating LNG terminal on the estuary.