Planning board refuses permission for €650m Shannon LNG terminal

An Bord Pleanála says development would be inappropriate pending review of Ireland’s energy supply

An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for the construction of a €650 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Shannon estuary near Ballylongford, Co Kerry.

The majority 8-2 decision was based on Government policy on the importation of fracked gas. The board decided it would be inappropriate to permit or proceed with the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland pending the review of energy supply, the planning authority said. It also refused permission for an adjoining gas-fired power station and battery storage facility.

It had been proposed that LNG would be shipped to Ireland by large tankers and re-gasified on the site before being put in the national gas grid.

Initial analysis in the unpublished Review of Energy Supply of Ireland’s Electricity and Natural Gas Systems by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications “does not support the development of a commercially operated floating LNG terminal”, the board concluded. The review is due to be published in coming weeks.


LNG use as a primary fuel source for a power station was contrary to current Government policy, the board added.

Green Party leader and Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan welcomed the decision.

“The future is not in investing in fossil fuels. At a time when the world is burning, we cannot expand our use of gas... But we can switch to electricity from wind and we can switch to hydrogen made from that wind,” Mr Ryan said at the Green Party think-in in Tramore, Co Waterford.

“This is where the world is going; 80 per cent of new power generation this year globally, is in clean, renewable energy and that’s only going to increase.”

The energy supply review could recommend some form of LNG, Mr Ryan said, adding that it “will be strategic, not commercial”.

Earlier this year, Mr Ryan moved to clarify his position on construction of the LNG terminal, saying such a facility would expand Ireland’s use of gas, contrary to legally-binding climate targets.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had yet to see the ruling, adding: “I’d like to read the decision and understand why that’s been made. It will come as a disappointment to a lot of people in north Kerry in particular because they were looking forward to that investment happening. I think there is a case for having gas storage.”

Friends of the Earth chief executive Oisín Coghlan said the decision “flows directly from the policy statement that this Government adopted in 2021 and the technical review of energy security that was carried out by Minister [for Environment] Eamon Ryan’s department”.

“Both of those flow directly from the programme for government, so credit where credit’s due,” Mr Coghlan said.

Politicians with local bases, including some in the European Parliament, were keen for any development that they thought might provide jobs, he said.

“The real future is in jobs in retrofitting and in solar technology and wind, of which that region is rich.”

The mayor of Kerry, Fine Gael’s Jim Finucane, said the decision was “incomprehensible” and he blamed the Green Party leader.

“This is going on for four years. This will impact on the economy of the whole country. It is the sole responsibility of Eamon Ryan,” Mr Finucane claimed.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy welcomed the news, saying construction of LNG facilities would be “completely contrary to Ireland’s climate goals and international climate commitments”.

Shannon LNG, backed by US multinational New Fortress Energy, sought 10-year permission for the facility including floating storage and regasification with onshore receiving facilities on a 52 hectare site adjoining the estuary, including a 600MW power station fuelled by LNG.

Attempts to construct the terminal at the deepwater site go back almost two decades. A report published last year by Cambridge Economic Policy Associates recommended LNG storage facilities be considered in Ireland to provide additional energy security.

In 2007, permission was granted for an LNG regasification terminal but there have been legal challenges and extension of permission was quashed by the High Court in 2020.

Permission was also granted in 2009 for a 26km gas pipeline to connect the Shannon LNG terminal to the existing natural gas network west of Foynes, Co Limerick.

The board said it had concerns about an “absence of precise detail” on piling and “a full clear assessment of all potential acoustic impacts on the natural condition of [the] critical bottlenose dolphin habitat” – and how the terminal would impact their behaviour.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times