Northern Ireland faces legal action over new gas storage project

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

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

Buddies of the Earth consider the case is the primary of its form 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 searching 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 Power 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 had been filmed.

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

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

James Orr, director of Buddies of the Earth Northern Eire, stated: “We’re . . . in court docket in the present day 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 below the lough by a way generally 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 undertaking, 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 government, instructed the FT in January: “Should you have 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 evaluation was “a chance to finish this as soon as and for all” and he had 4 buyers eager to become involved.

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

DAERA stated: “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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