Everyone involved in opposing the proposed Shannon LNG project were delighted with the ‘stop work’ order on the project last Friday. Newly appointed High Court judge Mr Justice Garett Simons justified both FIE’s 2008 original challenge and the current judicial review in his 64 page judgment.
From the first moment of the four-day hearing the judge focused in on the developer’s failure to use the appropriate section of the planning acts to seek their extension, avoiding the one that contained EU Habitats Directive safeguards -similar to what had happened when we lost the original case in 2008. Now the question was if major project planning permissions be extended after they have expired. And if so can you do so without looking again at the environmental consequences because of changes in the law or new scientific information?
The judge framed questions for the European Court of Justice that should ensure an end to these practices not only in Ireland but across the EU. The only caveat is that the judgment made no mention of climate change, in spite of all our arguments. We have to wait now the judgment on our challenge to the National Mitigation Plan due later this year to see if the Courts are will to ensure the Government meets the legally binding agreements for green house gas reductions that they have signed up to.