I am writing to you as one of my elected representatives to ask you to ensure that your Party’s Stormont Minister will request a change to the Northern Ireland petroleum policy at next week’s Executive meeting. As this is a ‘cross cutting’ issue affecting several Executive departments [Health, Finance, Economy, Agriculture & Infrastucture] then, under section 2.5 of Ministerial code, individual Ministers have the right to request the issue be brought up at Executive level, even if the First Minister and/or Deputy First Minister have not officially added it to the agenda.
On 13. 10. 2020 the assembly voted unanimously to have a moratorium on petroleum licensing. Unfortunately this was not legally binding as the Executive Ministers have not officially discussed and voted on the issue. So as of December 2020 the UOG (Unconventional Oil & Gas) industry is still planning to return to Northern Ireland next year. So it is of vital importance that the Executive instigate the policy change [as voted for by the Stormont MLAs] before 2021. The change in Executive Policy will be a ‘stop-gap’ allowing time for the Private members bill [recently launched] to pass into legislation. This policy change will be a powerful dis-incentive for any UOG considering drilling here. The bill banning petroleum licenses will take 12 to 18 months from now [Dec 2020] before it becomes law.
The change required is as outlined in the 13 Oct motion. The wording of that motion now needs to become NI Executive policy before 18 December 2020 [Christmas recess]. The new wording is thus as follows:
“ The Northern Ireland Executive has from 18 December 2020 an immediate moratorium on petroleum licensing for all exploration for, drilling for and extraction of hydrocarbons until legislation is brought forward that bans all exploration for, drilling for and extraction of hydrocarbons in Northern Ireland.”
The risks of UOG industry to our health, environment, climate, communities, jobs and prosperity is too high to allow these companies a foot hold in the province. So as my MLA please bring to fruition the democratic wishes of the Northern Ireland people as requested by Stormont two months ago.
Name: Address & Email.
On the 13 October 2020 our Stormont MLAs passed a motion requesting the Northern Ireland Executive “to instigate an immediate moratorium on petroleum licencing for all exploration for, drilling for and extraction of hydrocarbons until legislation is brought forward that bans all exploration for, drilling for and extraction of hydrocarbons in Northern Ireland.”
This should have been great news for us all, but despite the motion, the Minister at the Department of the Economy [DfE] is continuing to use taxpayers money to fund research into how to regulate this same oil & gas industry in Northern Ireland.
Tamboran, who are planning to return to Fermanagh, are now claiming they won’t frack in the exploration stage, but their website admits that if they do get to extracting any methane that they find then they will have to frack to make it financially viable for the company. It will be neither financially or health viable for the people of Fermanagh if Tamboran do return.
To summarise the current state of affairs we publish here, with permission, a link to the open letter to all ninety MLAs at Stormont from Belcoo Frack Free. There is some very serious irregularities in how the DfE is allowing this whole process to continue. Please contact your MLAs and ask them to stop this research and help get the full petroleum exploration & extraction ban for the whole of Northern Ireland.
Update: The fodc Local Development Plan Draft Plan Strategy – Proposed Changes Consultation has been paused with immediate effect from 2nd September 2020.Therefore, please do not submit comments to it at this time.
Please see Page 20 for FODC’s proposed changes to the draft Local Development Plan in relation to unconventional hydrocarbon extraction (fracking).
Local Development Plan Draft Plan Strategy – Proposed Changes Consultation
Closing date for consultation replies is Friday September 11th 2020.
Fracking: unconventional oil & gas exploration and extraction using high volume hydraulic fracking. Below is a short synopsis of current issues regarding fracking.
UK mainland: ‘Fracking for the time being is over’. However there continues to be planning applications brought forward for exploration wells. https://drillordrop.com/2020/01/21/fracking-for-the-time-being-is-over-business-minister/
The Irish Government still has a ban on fracking but is happy to go ahead with the import of fracked LNG [liquid nitrogen gas] from the USA. Thus they are ‘out-sourcing’ their fracked gas but never-the-less still causing ill health and refusing to accept the climate change emergency is already happening.
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, we finally have an Executive again. The Department of Economy for Northern Ireland intends to undertake a review of both its Minerals and Petroleum licensing regimes and the Minister has approved the procurement of independent research into both topics. This is likely to be completed over the next six to nine months. It is welcomed that this review is happening, the public were already promised in the past, via the ‘all island study’ that health impacts of fracking would be considered. However health was not fully considered in that study. Government Departments have a history of trying to ‘shut out and close down’ the health issues relating to fracking. They do this by creating artificially narrow definitions of health. It is vital that Public Health is at the heart of future reviews and decision-making. See CHPNY health compendium at http://concernedhealthny.org
We [FFAN and the wider public] need to canvass all the Stormont parties on what is their position with regards to onshore petroleum exploration and extraction in Northern Ireland. We insist that our MLAs have the health implications of fracking as outlined by the ‘CHPNY compendium’ centre-stage to Ministers licensing review. If health is genuinely central to the review, as it must be, then it is obvious that fracking must be banned in Northern Ireland.
Many MLAs still support searching for oil and gas, and are happy to make a false distinction between exploration and extraction and will seek to split hairs on this issue. Our elected representatives must accept that fossil fuels are no longer the way forward and that gas is not a transition fuel. https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/breaking-report-we-now-have-technology-switch-100-renewable-energy
Extraction of fossil fuels has no place in the third decade of the 21st century, so exploration should not even be an option. We should not waste energy [pardon the pun] and money on a dying industry. Instead we must use our limited time to ensure that our Executive moves a rapidly to a low carbon economy. To this end FFAN encourage all sign the petition at: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/no-fracking-in-northern-ireland
Thank you. Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network
Below is the letter sent by FFAN this week to the Fermanagh Herald & Impartial Reporter [local newspapers].
I am writing to your paper regarding the petroleum exploration license consultation document PLA2/16 recently published by the Department for the Economy [DoE]. This consultation proposes plans to frack up to half of Fermanagh and can be viewed at www.economy-ni.gov.uk
Yes; Tamboran are back, unfortunately. The people of Fermanagh rejected their spurious claims of wealth before and we won the argument. Unfortunately the civil servants of Northern Ireland have decided to give Tamboran another go at fracking in our County. This in not acceptable; fracking in all its different names & guises to extract methane gas from underground rocks is very damaging, especially to human health. People can access the highly regarded USA medical compendium about the health risks and impacts of fracking on humans at www.concernedhealthny.org. The pollution of our air and water not only damages our health but it will seriously reduce the jobs in our farming, tourism & fishing sectors.
Past experience shows the jobs created will not be in the thousands, as stated by Tamboran, but only a few dozen as has been shown in other countries that have been fracked. Methane is 30 times [3000%] more potent as a green house gas than carbon dioxide; this is not compatible with the necessity to move quickly away from fossil fuels in the next two decades.
If the DoE grant the initial five year license then Tamboran can, at the end of that five years request another five years extension which the DoE cannot decline if the conditions of the first license have been met. Then in another five years Tamboran can request a twenty year extension which again is almost certain to be approved, under current regulations. Thus if they get their ‘foot in the door’ Tamboran could be polluting Fermanagh until 2050, while the rest of the world is aiming to be fossil fuel free.
FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network] ask all people of Fermanagh to reply to this consultation document by expressing their strong opposition to fracking. The closing date for replies is 5th July. If you require any background details to help compose your response please check out our website www.frackaware.com.
Dr Carroll O’Dolan. MRCGP Health spokesperson for FFAN .”
Below are some ideas you could use for composing your submission regarding Tamboran’s License application. PLA2/16
Don’t forget closing date is 5th July 2019
- Public Health issues
- Water pollution issues
- Air pollution issues
- Climate change issues
- No Ministerial input or democratic oversight has been involved in allowing the application to progress this far.
- Licences automatically extended (provided licensee follows conditions etc) from initial 5 years to second 5 years and then to 20 years of production
- Proper public consultation isn’t a concession any more, but our right (e.g. under Aarhus Convention), yet this consultation process is currently not statutory and thus can still be ignored.
- Brexit uncertainties especially regarding environmental regulation, monitoring, enforcement
- Tamboran’s license application is very brief and dated Sept 2016. It doesn’t address any specific environmental issues. Meanwhile DfE emphasises that it ‘does not lead’ on environmental matters, not even getting the current name of the relevant department correct.
- Financial – This is supposed to be a key criterion, yet we have few details about Tamboran’s current status.
- Technical – This current application from Tamboran is full of redacted information so we, the public, are unable to make a proper decision on their full intentions.
- No mention of cross-border issues despite the drilling area bordering the Republic of Ireland[Espoo Convention].
- Lack of SEA [Strategic Environmental Assessment].
- Economic impact – claims of thousands of in/direct jobs . No previous fracked areas have shown this to be true.
- Ecologically important sites – loughs, mountains, forests, Marble Arch, ASSIs etc – map covers huge area of Fermanagh up to border & lough shores.
FFAN General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] Policy. May 2018.
Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network [FFAN] is compliant with the GDPR that came into effect on 25 May 2018. GDPR governs how organisations manage the personal details/data that they hold on individuals, and why FFAN holds such details.
Usual data held by FFAN will be a maximum of:
Title [Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms or other]
First Name & Surname
Postal address & phone number [mobile and/ or landline number]
Purpose of data:
To ensure an effective system for communication with FFAN members and others (supporters, FODC councillors & civil servants, local & national politicians, journalists and other relevant individuals & organisations) to allow and assist with FFANs Visions, Aims & Values.
The information will be held by the FFAN Secretary or other delegated FFAN committee members.
All information/contact details held by FFAN will be made available to the individual to which it relates when requested, and will be amended or deleted when the individual so requests. This can be done by emailing the secretary of FFAN with details of any amendments or emailing to the FFAN Secretary the words ‘Unsubscribe me’.
The information will be used solely for the purpose of circulating information about FFAN business and associated information including events organised by others.
FFAN contact data will be held on password protected systems.
FFAN is holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 8th February at 6.30pm in Fermanagh House, Enniskillen. We welcome all current FFAN members along to the meeting. Any new members who would like to join are also welcome to attend.
Jessica Ernst gave a very insightful presentation into the obstacles she faced when she raised the issue of poor safety by fracking Companies in Alberta Canada.
For a video of the presentation please access using the links below. The video was very kindly organised by our colleagues in LAMP [Letterbreen and Mullaghdun Partnership].
FFAN also include here the talk that Jessica Ernst gave the week before in Malton, England which is close to the fracking that has already started in North Yorkshire.
Jessica Ernst Enniskillen talk, October 17, 2017, after storm ophelia:
*** JESSICA ERNST TALK CANCELLED TONIGHT [ MON 16th] *** RE-SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW NIGHT AT 7.00PM. SAME VENUE = FERMANAGH HOUSE ***
Jessica Ernst is an Environmental Scientist from Alberta who will visit Fermanagh this month with her presentation:
‘The story of how fracking ruined my water’.
She will tell her story of taking the Oil & Gas company EnCana, the Alberta government and the energy regulator to court when ‘gold standard’ regulations failed.