A single issue, non-affiliated, cross-community network of local people with a peaceful ethos and a positive vision for our county's development, working to raise awareness of the risks associated with shale gas extraction.
A court in California has ruled that the issuing of oil and gas leases broke the law because it did not take into account the dangers of fracking, including potential water contamination . The leases cover 2500 acres of land and are estimated to contain 64% of the United States’ shale oil reserves. Like shale gas, shale oil is only economically obtainable by using high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The court found that the Bureau of Land Management violated US environmental law by not carrying out a full environmental impact study. It was also pointed out that the exploitation of fossil fuels such as shale oil and gas are in conflict with California’s policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down catastrophic climate change.
We hope that this cautionary tale will warn our own administration not to make hurried, costly and dangerous decisions that will threaten the economic, health and environmental futures of the people of Fermanagh and Northern Ireland. Visit our What can I do? page to find out more about how you can make your voice heard.
The following notice has just appeared, announcing DETI’s intention of issuing a new petroleum licence covering counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Londonderry and Tyrone. Please note the short consulation period of one month from today – anyone who is concerned needs to act quickly!
The Environmental Protection Agency in the Republic of Ireland has produced a terms of reference document setting out their proposals for a programme of research into “unconventional gas exploration and extraction”. The steering committee for this research includes the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and it will be of great importance on both sides of the border. To read the terms of reference please click here and to make your own submissions about it, please email UGEEconsultation@epa.ie before the deadline of March 8th.
If you are concerned about this issue, as an individual or on behalf of a community group or other organisation, please use this opportunity to make your voice heard. You may wish to write a detailed response or simply to refer to question one on page two; ‘Can this technology be used whilst also fully protecting the environment and human health?’
For more details please read the EPA’s press release below.
Very best wishes to all, in Fermanagh and beyond, from the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, for a joyful Christmas and a New Year of peace, prosperity and hope. Special thanks to all those friends who have supported our work in 2012 and helped us to raise awareness of what shale gas extraction and frackiing could mean for our beautiful county. Please keep on spreading the word to your friends, your family, your neighbours, community leaders and political representatives.
And over the Christmas break, if you can’t face The Great Escape yet again, why not watch the debate on fracking that was held in Stormont in September? We’ve uploaded most of it to YouTube (watch it in the windows below) and the rest will follow in the New Year.
And finally, here’s an extra viewing of the vitally important part of the debate which shows that fracking in Fermanagh is especially unsafe and should not be permitted. Experts have stated that the separation between a fracking zone and an aquifer should be at least 600 metres. But here, we understand that the proposed distance from the fracking zone to the regionally important aquifer upon which many people’s drinking water depends, is only 500 metres. We think this is an important issue which the people in Fermanagh deserve to know about. If you agree, please share it with others.
Have a merry Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year.
Despite the frantic ‘dash for gas’ by the current Conservative (sorry, coalition) Westminster government, even the solidly-Tory Telegraph has misgivings about fracking in the UK. As Liam Halligan writes:
Once subsidies are removed, shale oil and gas is far from cheap, not least because it requires the continuous drilling of small wells, rather than the long exploitation of big wells. So constant – and costly – drilling is needed just to maintain shale output, let alone increase it. US shale energy looks cheap, because domestic prices are cheap. But that’s down to unsustainable tax breaks and laws that stop American energy exports.
Some object to shale energy on environmental grounds. While I’m no geologist, reports of “earthquakes” in Lancashire during recent “pilot fracks” make worrying reading. It also appears that US shale production has, at the very least, had an indirect impact on water supplies, as underground aquifers have been damaged.
Given the West’s desperation for something – anything – to rescue us from our economic malaise, even the most determined environmentalists won’t stop the shale juggernaut until evidence emerges of very serious damage indeed to human health and welfare.
Maybe such evidence will emerge, maybe it won’t. I just don’t know.
What I do know, though, is that the production implications of the shale revolution, and its related economic and strategic advantages, are being blown out of all proportion.
When the big energy companies and Western governments push in the same direction, they can, for a while anyway, create any conventional wisdom they like, even one with little regard for the facts.
Following FFAN’s meeting with the Environment Minister on 5th September and subsequent correspondence, the FFAN Chair, Dr. Carroll O’Dolan, wrote to the Minister of Health, Mr. Edwin Poots. He asked Mr Poots to ensure that the Department of Health be represented within the inter-departmental Shale Gas Forum, and to meet with FFAN to discuss the serious public health concerns arising out of fracking.
Mr. Poots replied (second page here), declining to meet FFAN at this time, but confirming that the Chief Environmental Health Officer had represented the Department at the first formal meeting of the Shale Gas Forum on 18th October.
Fracking Up, the new novel by frackaware.com’s editor Tanya Jones, is now available in paperback from Amazon. It tells the story of a fictional European island faced with shale gas extraction and of what happens when the book’s heroine, Jenny, and her friends start campaigning on the issue. It’s not a heavy book, in any sense; it was described on Amazon as “An enjoyable romance with a serious centre and lots of humour along the way” but we hope that it will help a wider audience to appreciate the likely effects of fracking in populated areas and beautiful landscapes. Tanya is happy to talk about the novel to book groups or at other events – contact her at email@example.com
Following the meeting, Dr. Carroll O’Dolan wrote to the Minister thanking him for his time and requesting that the Department of Health be represented in the inter-departmental Shlae Gas Forum. We were very pleased to receive a prompt reply from Mr. Attwood confirming that this would be the case and that he would use all efforts to ensure that the forum would address all relevant issues including health-related matters. For further news about FFAN and the Department of Health, watch this space …
Note: All the presentations and letters referred to are available on our Documents page or by clicking on the highlighted text.
At the Conservative party conference this week, George Osborne, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that he was “consulting on a generous new tax regime for shale”. If this proposal materialises, it means greater profits for the gas companies and even less potential revenue for the UK government.
As a representative from FoE pointed out:
“The chancellor clearly isn’t listening to the increasingly vociferous warnings from leading politicians, businesses and climate experts about his reckless dash for gas. With a fossil-fuelled economic strategy firmly rooted in the 1970s, George Osborne is looking increasingly incapable of dealing with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”
Meanwhile one of Osborne’s own colleagues, Laura Sandys, Conservative MP and part of the ministerial team at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), highlighted the problem of public opposition shale gas is likely to face: “Onshore wind is a walk in the park, by comparison.”