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Shannon gas terminal dispute will not go before EU court of justice

A High Court judge has refused to ask the Court of Justice of the EU to decide whether the European Commission's inclusion of the proposed €500 million Shannon LNG project in a list of EU Projects of Common Interest (PCI) was valid.

Additional issues in an action by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), particularly issues under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, will be fixed for hearing on a later date. Those include whether the State conducted any, or any adequate, sustainability assessment before approving the Shannon terminal and pipeline project for the PCI list.

FIE sought a preliminary reference to the CJEU as a core relief in its case focussing on the decision making procedure involving the Commission and the State which lead to the Shannon project being included in the 4th EU PCI list, entitling it to the “most rapid treatment legally possible”.

FIE' case was brought against the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and the State. The Commission opted not to participate.

Prior to deciding other issues, FIE asked Mr Justice Garrett Simons to refer issues to the CJEU concerning the validity of a “delegated act” of the Commission on October 31st 2019 approving inclusion of the Shannon project in the PCI list.

In seeking a reference, FIE claimed adoption of the 4th EU PCI list made that list an annexe of Regulation 347/2013 of the European Parliament and European Council on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure.

It claimed the Shannon project did not satisfy the criteria required by Article 4 of the Regulation the basis for the Commission's conclusion the Shannon project was “necessary” for at least one of the energy infrastructure priority corridors and areas for the purposes of Article 4 was unclear.

The State parties argued the referral sought was impermissible under EU law.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Simons refused to make a reference, saying there was no basis on which the High Court could do so.