Subsequent to your company obtaining planning approval did you commission further modelling on the likely effects of the brine discharge into the North Channel near Port Muck and has it been independently reviewed?
Yes, further modelling was undertaken in 2019 and the results will be incorporated in to an update report and shared with DAERA as per their requirements.
Do the marine licences cover the marine discharge and the underground cavern excavation?
The marine licence covers the construction of the outfall and the creation of the caverns.
Can we not use the Salt for something else and not put in back to sea?
Alternative uses of the brine were investigated as part of the ES process. It was considered that the most environmentally and economically sustainable means of disposing of the leached salt from the gas storage caverns is by returning it to the sea. Uses for brine are being reconsidered however it is expected that the rate of production would be significantly greater than demand.
How did we reach the distance for the outfall?
This was based on a balance of considerations relating to engineering practicality and ensuring sufficient length to achieve good dispersion.
What is the feasibility of taking the outfall pipe out to the 50 metre depth line.
This was raised previously during the consultation on the Marine Licence and the response issued then by IMSL was as follows “the cost of extending the proposed marine outfall by circa 500m to discharge at the 50m contour would be of the order of £1M, which although significant was not a factor in determining the outfall position. The discharge position was defined by consideration of the overall environmental impact associated with both the operational and construction phases. In terms of the operational phase, the dispersion of the brine occurs within the lower part of the water column and is governed by the arrangement of diffuser ports thus the area of impact would be similar at both locations as the additional water depth does not affect initial dilution. In terms of construction and potential decommissioning impacts however extending the outfall to the 50m contour will result in much greater seabed disturbance as the 27m water depth position is close to the practical limit of current HDD technologies consequently any extension would need to utilise construction techniques that involve seabed disturbance, either trenching or stone dumping, for little if any benefit in terms of reducing the area of seabed impacted by the operational discharge. Extending the outfall to 50m water depth would also increase the Health & Safety risk due principally to the significantly greater dangers associated with undertaking the diving operations necessary to install and service the diffuser at this depth.”
These seems to be a discussion that the water is to shallow is this correct?
This is incorrect, there are many other examples of similar projects where the discharge is in much shallower and less dynamic waters with no observed adverse impact.
You are saying no permanent damage, so are we saying some temporary damage and if so how much?
The Environmental Statement acknowledged that there will be a localised impact during the leaching phase due to the discharge of brine. The assessments indicate this will limited to a small area from the diffuser where avoidance will result while the discharge is operational. The only impact was associated with high levels of salt re-colonisation will commence as soon at the brine discharge ceases and salinity levels return to normal seawater levels.
What metre of dead Zone will be around the outlay pipe?
This was assessed to be <100m
Will there be chemicals used in the drilling and cavern construction process which could be pumped out with the brine? Or is it simply heated sea water that is used?
No chemicals will be used during the cavern construction process. The caverns will be constructed using seawater at normal sea temperature (not heated). Chemicals are utilised during drilling and will largely be contained within the drilling mud. There will not be any chemicals discharged above permitted levels as stated in the Environmental Statement.
Can we have an explanation of the volume which will exit the outfall pipe, we need to make the understanding that the volume exciting the pipe needs to minus the volume entering the inlet pipe.
There is no increase in volume, just an increase in density as the salt is dissolved and therefore carried in solution rather than suspension, the same volume is discharged as abstracted it is just heavier. In the ES an annual volume of 840,000m3 of salt over 4 years is quoted of a total of circa 3,360,000m3 over the life of the project.
Will you be discharging anything into Lane lough?
No, the brine will be discharged into the Irish Sea at an approved distance offshore where it will be disbursed by the tidal streams.
Are you going to develop another 15 underground caverns ?
No decision has been made on this yet, we are undertaking various studies to see if it is technically and financially feasible to develop more caverns. If we decide to proceed with additional caverns this will be subject to a new planning application, it is unlikely that it will require any further substantial, above ground infrastructure.
We are going to store more than gas?
In principal it is our intention to store gas in the first two caverns, however we are also considering other options including Carbon Capture. This would be a huge benefit to Northern Ireland and environmentally prudent. With the UK setting new targets in their Climate Change Act 2008 this would have a significant impact to helping the UK to achieve its Carbon Emissions targets.
Will we ever store Nuclear waste or radioactive material in these caverns? And if not Explain why please.
No, the caverns are designed for gas storage only. When they finished being used for gas storage they will be filled with Brine and capped.
Will the storage units be used to store nuclear waste?
The storage units will be used to store natural gas to ensure energy security for Britain and Ireland.
Currently, we are only working on construction activities and planning for seven caverns, we are however considering additional caverns should an economic case demonstrate the need. This will not mean further years of construction activity following the main construction of caverns 1-7. The same plant and equipment will generally be used with minor additions and upgrades on the existing sites with all the same pipelines etc being utilised.
Are we fracking?
No, the project does not involve fracking in any way and it is in no way similar to fracking and the technology processes are not even similar. We have always maintained that we will NEVER be fracking and any suggestion of fracking associated to Islandmagee Energy is totally incorrect information.
The project will bring up to 400 jobs during construction and 40 permanent jobs when fully functional and these will include apprenticeships for our young people. We are committed to bringing employment to the local area. Where possible we will use all available local labour. As we move forward local employment and training opportunities will develop.
We will publish the list of local contracts that are awarded. Part of the recent EPC (Engineering Procurement and Construction) tender request highlights the need for local content and that we will be monitoring the amount of work awarded locally when skills are in existence.
The facility will become a long-term employer and we would expect to see apprenticeships and the like created to provide a great future for the next generation in Islandmagee and the surrounding areas.
Jobs? What jobs? What apprenticeships?
Our gas storage project will create c400 direct and 1600 indirect jobs during the construction phase and c60 direct and 180 indirect jobs during the forty-year operational life of the project which will inject multi millions into the local community.
We are currently producing a database of all local organisation who may be able to participate in the project in some way from larger corporates through to smaller SME’s, our commitment is to achieve as high a level of local industry participation as is possible. As we progress through the project we will be updating our new website which will keep track of the amount spent locally in a clear and transparent manner as we develop our local reputation as good corporate citizens.
Who is behind this Facebook page?
InfraStrata plc’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Islandmagee Energy Limited
Why do we need this?, why did other companies walk away from it ?
When the project was first developed the gas storage industry was a substantially different market, we still had substantial reserves within the UK and territorial waters, these are now in decline. The UK has several other gas storage facilities that have since closed for injecting new gas, resulting in a UK gas storage crisis. The UK has storage for less than 2% of our annual demand, our European neighbours have between 20 – 30 % of annual demand to protect against seasonal spikes. The gas trading markets have shown a substantial increase in volatility in recent years which indicates the real demand for storage and flexibility.
During The Beast from the East the UK was 6 hours away from running out of gas, with no gas flowing from Europe the solution was sitting in an LNG tanker some six days away. If nothing is done the UK will run out of gas resulting in a cost of £380m.
The board of directors have no links to the previous boards and have already stated that the company is focused on Energy related infrastructure projects and will not be carrying out any exploration works.
Is Islandmagee Energy associated to Gaelectric?
Islandmagee Energy is not associated to Gaelectric, it is a completely separate company/project, with no common directors and no common link.
Do we have full planning permission?
Yes, the project was granted full planning permission in 2012. Construction activities commenced in 2015 and progress will continue to meet our 2023 operational date for our initial two caverns.
I am aware that planning approval was given by the then DoE Planning Service on 17 October 2012 for “above ground facilities associated with proposed Gas Storage Facility.....” Was this a time bound approval?
Yes, Condition 1 of the granted approval required the development to be commenced within 5 years. The was achieved with the construction of the wellpad and drilling of the appraisal well, which was completed in 2015.
Are you proposing a further planning application, in relation to increasing the number of underground caverns?
No, we plan initially develop two caverns, which will enable us to assess the optimum strategy to achieve our target storage capacity. If this results in the requirement for more than seven caverns then a new planning application will be considered.
If so will that be presented to the Planning Department of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (the previous application was dealt with centrally by the then DoE, but this was prior to devolution of most planning functions to local government).
If a new planning application is considered necessary, as noted above, the due planning process applicable at such time will be followed.
Have separate licences from Geological Survey Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Executive been obtained?
Discussions have commenced with the relevant bodies to confirm the necessary approvals that will be required for the project. These applications will be made when the project has progressed to the necessary stage.
Are these things safe?
The company has gone above the standard requirements to ensure the highest level of engineering design has been incorporated into the recent engineering design. Underground salt caverns are not new technology, they have been around for many years and are a proven technology, we are not doing anything new.
Why did we choose Islandmagee?
Islandmagee was identified as the only location in NI where a suitable geology exists to develop gas storage caverns. It is also adjacent to the existing electrical and gas infrastructure.
Why have we chosen Islandmagee when we already have a power station here?
We have chosen Islandmagee because it is in a unique geographical position which includes a pre-existing gas fired power station, the gas pipeline coming in from Scotland, and the salt layer 1500 metres below the seabed. These components create the right conditions to create the caverns for storing natural gas.
The caverns will be directly under Larne Lough?
Yes, at a depth of approximately 1.5Km
Are we going to have major congestion?
As part of the FEED (Front End Engineering Design Study) minimising congestion to the local residents and ensuring we are good neighbours was a top priority for us. We are considering various ways to keep traffic off the roads, clearly as with any construction project everything will be done under the HSENI regulations, to ensure safety at all times.
What is this £1m fund and when will see any of it?
Islandmagee Energy has pledged £1m to be utilised by the local community over the life of the Islandmagee Energy project. With an aim to support local projects and initiatives, it is hoped that these funds will provide vital investment for many within the local community.
We are in the process of advertising for a local representative of the community to join this committee that will distribute the fund over the lifetime of the project.
In the meantime, in keeping with our community values we have already started to award some grants that are not included with this fund:
Islandmagee Primary School – New routers to enable interactive learning.
Islandmagee Guides – Funds to allow girls to attend annual camp.
We as a company have pledged 1 million pounds to be used within the local area for the benefit of the local community over the operation life of the project. Schools, groups and organisations WILL benefit from this, a board consisting of representation from the local community and the company will be set up to manage this trust fund for the benefit of everyone.
We have already supported the local community in advance of this group being established by providing much needed equipment to the Islandmagee Primary School.
What public meetings have been held?
Public meeting held in Islandmagee 2nd Presbyterian Church Hall, Saturday 27th April 2013.
Two-day public exhibition was the held on 26th & 27th June 2013 in Islandmagee 2nd Presbyterian Church Hall for people to drop in, view plans and provide feedback.
Two-day public exhibition held 30th & 31st October 2013 in Islandmagee 2nd Presbyterian Church Hall for people to see revised plans (following feedback gathered in June above).
Drop-in public event held in Islandmagee 4th Nov and Glynn 5th Nov ‘14 ahead of drilling of ‘data gathering’ well. In addition to this we gave presentations to/held meetings with residents, local councillors and MLAs and other project stakeholders.
Are we going to kill all the wildlife?
Most definitely not, we have carried out huge environmental studies with the help of RPS Environment, who have concluded that the brine discharge will have ‘NO’ significant impact on the local habitats and fisheries. In addition, salt caverns are not a new technology and have been around for decades and are proven technology with minimal environmental impact. There are hundreds of salt caverns operating globally. The project will not affect any wildlife native to Islandmagee.
Will the project threaten common skate and spurdogs?
There has been some limited fishing activity in the area by gill net for skate and ray which apparently was quite productive in the past but has now declined significantly. A report was commissioned by the NIEA and produced recently by AFBI in 2009 – Position statement on sharks, skates and rays in Northern Ireland waters. As part of this report data from the AFBI scallop survey (partly carried out off Islandmagee) was examined for by-catch of skates and rays but was not included as few individuals were recorded over several years. This may suggest that these species are not particularly abundant in this area. The report concluded that: Common skate are no severely depleted in Northern Ireland waters, and the overall North-east Atlantic population of Spurdogs is depleted and, although angling catches appear to be increasing in Northern Irish waters; the reflects recent changes in recreational fishing patterns and intensity. Although apparently not abundant, we acknowledge the conservation significance of these species and in our view the brine discharge will not impact on these species due to the rapid dilution and dispersal of the brine as predicted by modelling. In addition, these species will probably avoid the localised area of high salinity but may enter this zone without difficulty when foraging for food.
The pipelines for the gas and the second for the brine outlet will run across the Northern end of Islandmagee. Will these be overland or underground? How will this effect those with land which it runs over?
The pipelines will run across farmland generally following the route of the existing Scotland – Northern Ireland Pipeline (SNIP). There will be excavation during installation but once completed the pipelines will be buried and will not be visible.
What if any environmental monitoring has been carried out prior to this planning application?
Planning consent involved extensive environmental monitoring, which was incorporated into the Environmental Statement and Addendum.
Where may I find full environmental impact reports for each section of the project please?
These are available on the Islandmagee Energy website.
Who are RPS?
RPS is a Belfast based Environmental consultancy company, who InfraStrata/Islandmagee Energy employ to give independent advice on the project.
Is the RPS an independent body? Did IE pay them a consultancy fee?
RPS is a Belfast based Environmental consultancy company, who InfraStrata/Islandmagee Energy employ to give independent advice on the project.
Will archaeological surveys be carried out for any portion of development/ project?
Extensive archaeological surveys have already been carried out during the production of the Environmental Statement. Prior to the commencement of site works a programme of archaeological work, prepared by a qualified archaeologist will be implemented. Access will be provided, at all times, to a council nominated archaeologist to enable monitoring of the activities.