Notice of Environmental Consent Decision
DAERA wishes to thank individuals and organisations who have responded to a consultation on the marine licence application, and to the reviews of the discharge consent and abstraction licence for the proposed Islandmagee Gas Storage development.
Based on the information received through consultation, DAERA as the Marine Licensing Authority concludes that EIA consent under the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, 2007, as amended can be given, and a draft of the licence the Department proposes to grant has been issued to Islandmagee Energy Limited. The Marine Licensing Authority, through assessment of the environmental impacts detailed within the Environmental Statement and through consultation is satisfied that all material considerations have been assessed and adequate mitigation has been identified to minimise the impacts of the project. The mitigation identified has been incorporated into the Marine Licence, Discharge Consent and Abstraction Licence and will augment the existing mitigation in the planning permission.
Copies of the drafts of the Marine Licence, Discharge Consent and Abstraction Licence the Department proposes to grant, the Environmental Consent Decision, and the summary and response to the consultation are available here.
This web page publishes all relevant documentation to assist the public in formulating a view on an updated application for a Marine Licence for Islandmagee Gas Storage Project. Due to the nature of the project it is subject to the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 (as amended 2011). The original application was consulted on in 2012 and for the purpose of clarity documents 1-4 below were initially consulted on during that 2012 process. A final licence was not awarded at that stage and no contractor was appointed for the construction (which is usually required for a final licence to be issued). The company indicated in late 2018 that they wished to proceed with the project. Due to subsequent European designations in the area and requirements to assess up to date information, the company were asked to conduct additional survey work to update the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and provide an update on the brine dispersion modelling. Documents 5-15 have been produced in 2019 to support this re-application.
Licences for both the abstraction of seawater and discharge of solution mining brine were issued by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) on 14th November 2014. Both of these consents will be reviewed in 2020.
Planning permission for terrestrial works was granted on 18 October 2012 (F/2010/0092/F).
A previous consultation opened on 20 December 2019 and closed on 7 February 2020. As a result of an administrative oversight in the original newspaper advertisement, the Department with the support of the applicant has decided to run another consultation for a further 42 days.
You do not need to make a further response if you have already made a response during the 20 December2019-7 February 2020 consultation period. Your responses have been logged and will be included consultation process.
The application proposes the creation of 7 underground caverns by solution mining below Larne Lough, which would be used for the storage of natural gas. The application includes the associated marine infrastructure to enable seawater abstraction and the subsequent discharge of brine from the creation of the caverns by solution mining.
The Islandmagee Gas Storage Project; comprises the construction by solution mining of seven underground caverns in the Permian salt strata approximately 1,700m below Larne Lough, off Islandmagee, County Antrim.
The project includes the design and construction of a surface brine pumping facility, a gas compression facility, associated gas pipelines, a brine and seawater pipeline and associated infrastructure.
The components of the Project which are subject to a Marine Licence application are limited to:
- the boreholes and subsurface caverns to be leached
- the seawater intake structure and
- the brine discharge pipeline.
The solution mining will start with the drilling of the first of seven boreholes to a depth of approx. 1,700 metres. These will each take approximately one month to drill. A single drilling rig will be used on a 24/7 basis, with the rig moved from one completed well to the next. Each completed well will be capped with a well-head and will have concentric leaching strings inserted ready for the introduction of the seawater. The well-heads and well pad will be located onshore although the boreholes will be directionally drilled out under Larne Lough to the positions where the caverns will be constructed.
The solution mining will involve the pumping of sea water into each borehole as it is completed to leach (dissolve) the salt to form the void of each cavern. The returning concentrated brine solution is withdrawn and is pumped along the brine discharge pipeline to an outfall discharge point in the North Channel.
The abstraction of seawater and discharge of material from the cavern construction (brine) is regulated by NIEA’s Resource Efficiency Division.
How to respond
Copies of the application, environmental statement and Marine Environmental Conditions Update may be viewed free of charge during office hours at our premises on the First Floor, Klondyke Building, Gasworks Business Park, Belfast, BT7 2JA. Please contact DAERA on 028 90 569247 to arrange a viewing.
Please send your written responses to the consultation to either the address above or to MarineLicensingTeam@daera-ni.gov.uk. Please note the closing date for responses is 26th March 2020.
You do not need to make a further response if you have already made a response during the 20 December2019-7 February 2020 consultation period. Your responses have been logged and will be included consultation process. However, this further period may be used to add any further comments in support of your views.