Northern Ireland faces legal action over new gas storage project

Northern Eire’s resolution to log off an undersea venture that might present 1 / 4 of the UK’s gasoline storage capability will likely be challenged within the Excessive Courtroom in Belfast on Tuesday over environmental considerations.

No Fuel Caverns and Mates of the Earth Northern Eire are looking for to overturn a call by former Division of Agriculture, Surroundings and Rural Affairs (DAERA) minister Edwin Poots to grant a marine licence, granting development rights in sea areas for the Islandmagee facility.

Mates of the Earth consider the case is the primary of its variety in Northern Eire the place the courts have needed to grapple with the implications of local weather change within the context of presidency selections.

The teams are looking for to have the marine licence quashed, which means the applying for the allow could be referred again to DAERA. This might set again or finish plans to construct the most important gasoline storage facility on the island of Eire.

Poots granted the marine licence to Islandmagee Vitality in 2021 for the development of seven underground caverns at Larne Lough, an inlet in Antrim the place scenes from the favored TV sequence Sport of Thrones have been filmed.

In keeping with Harland and Wolff shipbuilding group, lslandmagee’s dad or mum firm, the caverns would supply greater than 25 per cent of the UK’s pure gasoline storage capability, primarily based on 2018 knowledge.

A judicial evaluate listening to scheduled to final 4 days will begin on Tuesday, the place legal professionals will argue that Poots did not correctly take into account the environmental implications of the venture when granting permission.

James Orr, director of Mates of the Earth Northern Eire, stated: “We’re . . . in court docket right now due to flagrant breaches of environmental legislation.”

Edwin Poots stated he couldn’t remark upfront of the listening to.

The deliberate caverns could be carved out of salt layers underneath the lough by a technique often known as resolution mining. Campaigners have claimed this resolution would then be discharged into the ocean, affecting native species together with harbour porpoise and skate.

Harland and Wolff has argued the venture, which was granted planning permission in 2012, will play a significant position in vitality safety throughout the island of Eire.

John Wooden, Harland and Wolff chief govt, informed the FT in January: “Should you take a look at . . . how shut the island of Eire is to the lights going out, gasoline storage is completely essential to that stability of provide.” 

He added that the judicial evaluate was “a possibility to finish this as soon as and for all” and he had 4 traders eager to get entangled.

“We really welcome the judicial evaluate . . . all the recommendation we’ve had is the whole lot we’ve finished is to the letter of the legislation,” he stated in an interview at H&W’s workplaces in Belfast. “There’s no purpose why the marine licence shouldn’t have been granted.”

DAERA stated: “It will not be acceptable . . . to remark additional till the authorized course of has been accomplished.”

Harland and Wolff declined to remark.

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