Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (843, 845)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

843. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to reconsider including the Shannon liquid natural gas terminal on the EU project of common interest list; the analysis made in the context of the proposed inclusion; if he sought external advice on the matter; if so, if he will provide the advice; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44329/19]

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Jack Chambers

Question:

845. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to approve the inclusion of the proposed gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary in the fourth list of projects of common interest in the absence of assessments of energy security, greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44404/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 843 and 845 together.

The Shannon LNG project to which the Deputies refer has been designated as a project of common interest for the last 6 years. It was designated as a project of common interest in 2013 and again in 2015, and 2017. It has been supported by Ireland since 2013 as it would enhance Ireland’s energy security by increasing import route diversity. This project is one of a number of natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects included in the 4th EU PCI list.

However, while Ireland continued to support the inclusion of Shannon LNG on the 4th EU PCI list, I have made it clear that the Government will not consider any application for EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding for any LNG project until an energy and sustainability security of supply review has been completed and considered by the Government and the Dáil, and only if the projects in question are consistent with national and EU climate policy objectives.

The energy sustainability and security review will consider how and from where fossil fuels are sourced during a transition to a carbon neutral economy. It will also consider the role that battery storage, pumped storage, hydrogen and CCS can play.

In addition, at the meeting of 4 October 2019 which considered the 4th PCI list, Ireland enquired from the EU Commission whether the implications of importing LNG to the European Union, from conventional and unconventional fracked sources, have been examined in terms of a sustainable, secure and competitive European energy policy. The Commission advised that it had launched a study on methane emissions and agreed with the need to link gas imports to the objective of a climate neutral economy.

In relation to the process of PCI selection, it is organised by the European Commission in accordance with the requirements of EU Regulation 347/2013 which covers PCIs. This involves an evaluation process of projects put forward by project promoters. The process also involves the project promoters, regulators, Member States and other stakeholders participating in regional groups to discuss the projects.

The draft PCI list, which was agreed by Member States and the Commission at a meeting of 4 October 2019, has now been adopted by delegated act by the European Commission, and forwarded by the Commission to the European Council and Parliament for their consideration.

My Department did not seek external advice on the inclusion of the Shannon LNG project on the 4th list of Projects of Common Interest; the project has been included on each of the previous PCI lists from 2013 to date. The project is a private commercial project and the future development of this project, including final investment decisions, are matters for the project promoter.

The EU Regulation which provides for the designation of a project of common interest does not override the requirement to comply with environmental law or to obtain the necessary permits or consents. Compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits, including environmental assessment, are the responsibility of the project promoter. Decisions on consents for the construction of an LNG plant would be a matter for the relevant consenting authorities.