The proposed construction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities at the Port of Cork, a development that could create up to 100 jobs, has been criticised by more than 20 environmentalist groups from across Ireland.
The Port of Cork has signed a provisional contract with Texas-based company Pilot LNG in October 2022, to develop logistics infrastructure to import LNG, including the development of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU).
More than 20 environmentalist groups in Ireland have issued a letter calling for the Port of Cork to reconsider its decision.
Among 20 or so signatories is the campaign group 'Not Here, Not Anywhere'.
Spokesperson for the group, UCC-based environmentalist, Niamh Guiry, said: “In the past, the Port of Cork listened to the local community and climate movement in Cork and elsewhere and rejected LNG.
“Every fraction of a degree of warming costs human lives and has devastating impacts on our biodiversity and natural environment.
Ms Guiry added that the "proposed project in Cork harbour goes against national policy, international climate obligations, climate science, and risks locking Ireland into dirty fossil fuel dependence for more than 30 years".
“Cork harbour is a designated Special Protection Area (SPA) and an internationally important wetland that must be adequately protected from the risks associated with fossil fuel importation and exploitation.
"Generally, LNG is approximately 20 per cent more polluting than ‘natural’ gas in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, making it about as bad as coal in terms of its global warming potential."
Ms Guiry stated chlorine pollution from the proposed FSRU presents an added risk, particularly for fishing communities in Cork, saying that "chlorine pollution can have negative impacts on biodiversity in coastal communities, particularly in marine ecosystems".
Plans for a similar facility in the Shannon estuary were shelved last year after Environment Minister Eamon Ryan refused to grant a licence, following a campaign by environmental groups.
A spokesperson for Cork Port said: “The establishment of such infrastructure will be dependent on the outcome of the Government’s review of the responses received to its public consultation on the security of Ireland’s energy supply in quarter four of 2022.
“As one of Europe’s core ports, the Port of Cork Company sees significant opportunities for Cork harbour to become a hub for green energy, which will benefit the environment, local businesses and importantly support Ireland’s journey to net zero emissions.
“PoCC is also committed to working with the Government and its stakeholders in delivering key measures to ensure that Ireland maintains its security of energy supply now and in the future," the spokesperson added.
“If in line with Government policy, the supply of non-fracked LNG would, in the immediate term, act as a temporary, safe and immediate transitional fuel source, while also increasing Ireland’s capacity to store energy and play an important role in safeguarding the country’s energy supply.
“Renewable energy will play a hugely significant role in helping Ireland reduce its carbon emissions and it is the PoCC’s goal to utilise our facilities, working together with stakeholders to move towards the development of cleaner energy opportunities on our journey to net-zero, whilst also safeguarding Ireland’s energy supply in the near term."