Northern Ireland faces legal action over new gas storage project

Northern Eire’s choice to log off an undersea undertaking that might present 1 / 4 of the UK’s gasoline storage capability will probably 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 choice by former Division of Agriculture, Atmosphere and Rural Affairs (DAERA) minister Edwin Poots to grant a marine licence, granting building 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 choices.

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 largest 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 collection Recreation of Thrones had been filmed.

Based on 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 gasoline 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 Buddies of the Earth Northern Eire, mentioned: “We’re . . . in courtroom at the moment due to flagrant breaches of environmental legislation.”

Edwin Poots mentioned 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 referred to as 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 an important function in vitality safety throughout the island of Eire.

John Wooden, Harland and Wolff chief government, instructed 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 overview was “a chance to finish this as soon as and for all” and he had 4 buyers eager to get entangled.

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

DAERA mentioned: “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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