Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo has pleaded with the Irish government not to support the plant. Shutterstock/Sean Hannon acritelyphoto

'It's already the case that fracked gas is coming into Ireland from the UK' says Taoiseach

Varadkar said Ireland’s first LNG terminal in the Shannon estuary in north Kerry could be the answer to Ireland’s energy security.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said the Irish government has not made any decisions about backing Ireland’s first LNG terminal in the Shannon estuary in north Kerry.

The government has faced criticism in recent weeks from opposition parties in the Dáil, as well as high-profile actor Mark Ruffalo, in relation to the project which would see fracked gas or liquid natural gas (LNG) imported to Ireland. 

Ruffalo has called on the Irish government to withdraw any support for the project. 

The Hulk actor said Ireland has become an “international leader on climate change” by introducing a ban on fracking when legislation passed in the Dáil in 2017. 

While the ban stops any fracking taking place in Ireland, it does not prohibit the importation of fracked gas for use in the Irish energy market. 

Fracking has caused damage to communities in other countries, such as the US, resulting in water contamination and the death of animals, as well as having negative impacts on peoples’ health.

Project under the spotlight

A couple of weeks ago, the project was under the spotlight due calls for the minister to remove it from a list of priority energy projects in the European Union.

Last week, Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said the government will not support any grant application for EU funding by the Shannon LNG project until “a security of supply review has been completed and considered by the Government and by the Dáil”.

The Shannon LNG project, which has been held up in legal challenges, has been criticised by the Green Party, Solidarity-People Before Profit, as well as Friends of the Irish Environment. 

Critics have said it is hypocritical for the Taoiseach to allow fracked gas for importation after his announcement that Ireland will ban oil drilling in Irish waters. 

an-taoiseach-launches-progress-report-on-the-climate-action-plan-2019 PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

When asked if he agreed with such assertions, Varadkar said people were “mixing issues together”.

“Everyone accepts, or at least the scientific consensus is that we’re going to continue to use natural gas as part of our energy mix, probably well into the 2040s if not through to 2050,” he said.

“At the moment there’s only two ways to get gas into Ireland: from Corrib from the gas field there, that’s going to run out in 10-15 years’ time, and then the only way to get gas into the country is through the gas pipeline from the UK.”

He said if for some reason the UK supply came to an end “the lights would go out”. 

Varadkar said he would not allow “blackouts” to take place, adding that Ireland needs “energy security”. 

“The LNG terminal could be part of the answer to that,” he added. 

He acknowledged that people have concerns about fracked gas, adding “we don’t particularly want fracked gas coming into Ireland, but it is already the case that we have fracked gas probably coming into Ireland from the connector from the UK”.

“The government hasn’t made any commitments to this project or contributed in any way, it’s a private project, and before we make any decision on whether there’ll be any sort of government support or contribution to Shannon LNG, we will do a proper and full assessment, looking into both energy security and also the impact on the environment.”

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