November 13, 2011

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Ireland

Within the last six months or so the word ‘fracking’ has become a household word in parts of the island of Ireland. The screening of the award-winning film ’Gaslands’ in several towns and villages both sides of the Border, has added a visual interpretation to the word ‘fracking’. Viewers are still shocked and wonder how water from a tap could go up in flames. What was going on?

In the Republic of Ireland two areas have been identified as rich in shale gas: The Lough Allen Basin which comprises counties Leitrim, Cavan, Sligo, Donegal, Monaghan, Roscommon and Fermanagh and The Clare Basin, mainly ‘karst’ areas in counties Clare, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Kerry. No applications for licence for the commercial extraction of shale gas have been received by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ireland. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is the designated regulatory body with regard to the exploration phases associated with hydraulic fracturing. Its present minister, Pat Rabbitte,has requested that the EPA conduct up-to-date research on the Irish position. An Taisce, the Irish National Trust, has already their research available. Irish issues related to fracking are explored on www.frackfreeireland.org, a computer friendly website.

In Northern Ireland on April 1st 2011 the DETI granted four licences in relation to oil and gas exploitation in different parts of the region, including Rathlin Island and West Fermanagh. The licence is for an initial period of five years, during which various types of exploration and test drilling can be carried out. The Fermanagh licence has been granted to an Australian company called Tamboran Resources. Tamboran held several ‘Information Evenings’ both sides of the Border, at which concerns about the effects on tourism, risk to agricultural production, depletion of water supplies, potential effects upon health, levels of HGV traffic, risk of water and air contamination were raised. The Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network exists to provide information about shale gas and hydraulic fracturing in the area, to help coordinate local groups within the county and to work closely with similar groups. Tanya Jones of Enniskillen has developed a website www.frackaware.org which gives a helpful understanding of fracking.

In a short space of time people have gained a heightened awareness of ‘fracking’ and the environmental and social issues that arise because of it. In some localities evidence of a split in communities is surfacing. Across the world more and more people are waking up to the realities of hydraulic fracturing and the consequences for their environment, their lives and the lives of their children. Satelite Images of Gas Fracking Enterprises on www.skytruth.org shows the reality on the ground.

What actions can you take?
Find out more about the ‘Fracking’ process
Find out whether fracking is taking place in your own country or where you work
Find out what action is been taken at national or local level Join a related campaign or sign a related petition

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