Tánaiste Leo Varadkar supports controversial gas terminals opposed by the Greens’ Eamon Ryan

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has privately told his party that he supports the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to ensure the security of the state’s energy supply.

r Varadkar’s comments at a private meeting with Fine Gael members last week put him at odds with Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan, who is staunchly opposed to the controversial Shannon LNG project at Tarbert, north Kerry.

Amid concerns about the state’s ability to meet energy needs this winter, the Irish Independent can reveal that Mr Varadkar told Fine Gael members in Cork last Friday that LNG storage capacity would be “beneficial for security of supply”.

He argued that technological advances to avoid using natural gas were decades away and warned that if something went wrong with the UK interconnector, of which Ireland owns 75 per cent, there would be no other way to get gas into the country of its natural gas imported.

The Fine Gael leader said that while he opposed using LNG terminals to import fracked gas – a controversial drilling method opposed by environmentalists – there would be a reason for it if only non-fracked gas would be imported.

“If you think 25 to 30 years ahead, hopefully we won’t be using natural gas at all. We will use renewable energy, including hydrogen. Renewable electricity is great (but) it can only go so far, even if the batteries are great,” Mr Varadkar told Fine Gael members in Dunmanway, Co Cork.

“They can turn renewable energy into hydrogen gas, which is the green gas that will eventually replace natural gas. But that’s 20-25 years away.

“So we will need natural gas in the meantime and I think LNG storage in that sense would be beneficial in terms of security of supply given our reliance on the Corrib gas field and the UK interconnector. If something goes wrong with the UK interconnector, there is no other way to get the gas into the country.”

He added: “What I really want to avoid is importing fracked gas. We’ve banned fracking in Ireland and it would be a little odd if we built a giant terminal or used an old gas field to bring in dirty dirty fracked gas from America or Africa or anywhere else.

“If we could ensure that it was only non-fracked gas, and only for this transitional period, then I think there are reasons for it.”

Mr Ryan has directly intervened in New Fortress Energy’s application to build a €650m LNG plant on the Shannon Estuary, telling An Bord Pleanála in his application that this should be allowed “under no circumstances”.

Mr Ryan’s objection referred to the government program, which states: “We do not think it makes sense to develop LNG gas import terminals that import fracked gas.”

Several Ministers and TDs in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have expressed their support for Shannon LNG in recent months.

In his planning objection, Mr Ryan pointed out that the government’s policy statement on fracking gas outlined its opposition to building LNG terminals until a full energy security review – due next month – could be completed.

“The Secretary’s position on this particular project, the Shannon LNG Project, remains exactly as articulated in the objection letter,” Mr Ryan’s spokesman said yesterday.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/tanaiste-leo-varadkar-backs-controversial-gas-terminals-opposed-by-greens-eamon-ryan-41933096.html Tánaiste Leo Varadkar supports controversial gas terminals opposed by the Greens’ Eamon Ryan

Fry Electronics Team

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