Northern Ireland faces legal action over new gas storage project

Northern Eire’s determination to log out an undersea undertaking that would present 1 / 4 of the UK’s fuel storage capability might be challenged within the Excessive Courtroom in Belfast on Tuesday over environmental issues.

No Fuel Caverns and Associates 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.

Associates 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 choices.

The teams are looking for to have the marine licence quashed, which means the appliance for the allow could be referred again to DAERA. This might set again or finish plans to construct the most important fuel 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 collection Sport of Thrones have been filmed.

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

A judicial overview listening to scheduled to final 4 days will begin on Tuesday, the place legal professionals will argue that Poots didn’t correctly take into account the environmental implications of the undertaking when granting permission.

James Orr, director of Associates of the Earth Northern Eire, mentioned: “We’re . . . in court docket at present due to flagrant breaches of environmental legislation.”

Edwin Poots mentioned he couldn’t remark prematurely of the listening to.

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

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

John Wooden, Harland and Wolff chief govt, advised the FT in January: “For those who have a look at . . . how shut the island of Eire is to the lights going out, fuel storage is completely essential to that stability of provide.” 

He added that the judicial overview was “a chance to finish this as soon as and for all” and he had 4 traders eager to become involved.

“We truly welcome the judicial overview . . . all the recommendation we’ve had is all the things we’ve achieved is to the letter of the legislation,” he mentioned in an interview at H&W’s places of work in Belfast. “There’s no purpose why the marine licence shouldn’t have been granted.”

DAERA mentioned: “It could not be applicable . . . to remark additional till the authorized course of has been accomplished.”

Harland and Wolff declined to remark.

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