15 January 2021
By Tom Collins
The Green Party in Cork has welcomed confirmation that plans to import fracked gas through the Port of Cork have been scrapped.
In 2017, the Port of Cork and US gas company, NextDecade, signed a memorandum of understanding to import liquefied natural gas through the port. However, Green Party Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, has confirmed that this memorandum expired on 31 December 2020 and the Port of Cork have no intention to renew it.
Confirmation follows the passing of a motion by Cork City Council in 2019 calling on the Port of Cork to drop the project. However, efforts by the Green Party in Cork County Council to stop the project were blocked in October 2020.
The confirmation now comes through a parliamentary question arranged by Green Party members of Cork city and county council. Minister Ryan said:
“As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, it does not make sense to develop LNG terminals that import fracked gas. The Programme for Government is clear that the Government does not support the importation of fracked gas and commits to developing a policy statement to establish that approach.
“This policy statement is being developed by my Department and includes consideration of any necessary legal and regulatory provisions. This includes detailed examination of the European energy and environmental frameworks, in which our national laws operate, to ensure the policy statement will be legally robust. It is intended that the policy will apply to all LNG facilities in the State including the project in Cork. Once finalised, I intend to bring the policy statement to Government for approval.”
The project sparked controversy particularly because of the environmental damage caused to local communities by the process of “fracking”. Welcoming the decision, Green Party councillor for Cork City North East, Oliver Moran, said:
“In 2019, we met with members of the Port of Cork and were honoured to have Bekah Hinojosa, a resident from Texas, with us. She was able to explain first hand the effect that extracting gas in this way has on the local environment, especially for already marginalised communities. Fracking means injecting liquid into the earth and breaking up rocks under the ground to release gas. This has the effect of contaminating groundwater and unsettling the earth, even affecting birth outcomes.”
“Ireland banned fracking in 2017. The support from across the city and county in opposing the importing of fracked gas through Cork after that has been tremendous. The message is very clear, Cork does not welcome fracked gas. We know we have to make the transition to a low carbon economy but fracking and all of its effects has no place in that. Not here, not anywhere.