FFAN response to FODC Local Development Plan

Below is the FFAN response to the FODC Local Development Plan. This response was sent to the Planning Department & all FODC Councillors on 28 November 2016

RESPONSE  TO  FODC  LOCAL  DEVELOPMENT  PLAN.   NOV.  2016

On 3rd October 2016 the draft documents ‘Fermanagh & Omagh Community Plan [FOCP]’ and ‘Local Development Plan [LDP]’ were published by the Fermanagh & Omagh District Council [FODC]. These documents have been open for an eight week period of public consultation that ends on Monday 28 November.

In 2015 FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network] and many groups and individuals took part in the community engagement process to help draft what the people of this council area wanted to see in those plans. A strong cross-community consensus came from those meetings that the exploration and extraction of oil or gas from shale rock [commonly known as fracking] was incompatible with the sustainability remit inherent in both the FOCP and the LDP.

FFAN have studied the LDP paper and found that the wording used to oppose fracking is much weaker than was demanded by the Public at last years consultations. FFAN and many other groups and individuals have been involved in the current round of  ‘consultations’ last month and we state yet again that the LDP is not reflecting the wishes as clearly expressed by the public.

Many reasons exist to show that fracking will be detrimental to both the health & economy of the FODC area.

Attached are:

  1. a synopsis of health issues & fracking from the Irish College of General Practitioners Forum Journal. also see link   http://www.icgp.ie/assets/93/C9E3CD95-DD94-5BAE-F22851597666F0F4_document/Fracking.pdf
  2. summary of the report by the Economist Dr Brenna O’Roarty presented last year at a conference in Fermanagh on Fracking.
  3. See www.concernedhealthny.org [Concerned Health Professional of New York] for the ever growing compendium of scientific evidence linking fracking to ill health. Fourth edition came out this month.

For all the above reasons FFAN request that a total prohibition on Fracking is clearly stated in the FODCs LDP.

FFAN request the following three changes in the LDP to be incorporated int the final draft.

1) Section 8.8. [page 65] the proposed definition of short term as explained in Option 2 should be shortened from 15 to 5 years.

2) Q9b [page 68]  ‘ Are there any other areas that should be considered as ACMDs [ Areas of Constrained Mineral Development]? ‘ Our [FFAN] answer is ‘ Yes, the whole of the FODC area should become an ACMD.’

3) Section 12.30 [page 97] This section dealing with fracking is not explicit enough in its’ opposition to Fracking. The FODC should have a presumption of a total prohibition on Fracking in the FODC area.

Thus the following wording should be used to replace the current single sentence in section 12.30.

“The local development plan includes the presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation in line with the Strategic Planning Policy Statement. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will oppose the granting of petroleum exploration licenses over target strata described as shales, mud-stones, coal seams and ‘tight’ sandstone formations. There will be a presumption against planning applications associated with the exploration and/ or development of petroleum resources situated in shales, mud-stones, ‘tight’ sandstone formations and coal seams.”

Thank you.

Dr Carroll O’Dolan, on behalf of FFAN

Advice to members regarding Tamboran’s Injunction

Tamboran have taken out an injunction covering activities at the Acheson & Glover quarry near Belcoo. Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network is named in this injunction and therefore committee members and you as members of FFAN need to be aware of the consequences of any breach of the injunction. The injunction states that we are not to enter the quarry site, obstruct works, or interfere with the people carrying out works on behalf of Tamboran.

FFAN

Members of FFAN are reminded of our Vision, Aims, and Values and if these are followed we are less likely to have a problem with the injunction.

It is also important to follow any other codes of conduct that may be in operation at gathering/vigils etc.

FFAN is a cross community network of individual Fermanagh residents. It is not affiliated to any political party or other organisation but works with a broad range of groups and individuals who are concerned about the risks of hydraulic fracturing, both domestic and international.

Our Vision
County Fermanagh as an inclusive, progressive and vibrant county where its people and resources are respected, regenerated and sustainably managed and developed and where communities are healthy and prosperous, a great place to bring up families in a clean and unspoilt environment. We want this vision to be sustainable for the generations that follow.

Our Aims
The Aims of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network are to:
1. Raise awareness of the risks associated with unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction using high volume hydraulic fracking in Fermanagh and wider areas, and undertake advocacy and research work in response to emerging needs;
2. Encourage the safeguarding and sustainability of public health, agriculture, tourism, waterways, sustainable energy resources and the natural environment.
3. Help establish and support the development and empowerment of local affiliated groups, and liaise with appropriate national and international networks.

Our Values
1. FFAN is a cross-community network of individual Fermanagh residents. It is not affiliated to any political party or other organisation but works with a broad range of groups and individuals who are concerned about the risks associated with unconventional oil and gas extraction using high volume hydraulic fracking.
2. FFAN is a single issue group
3. FFAN will seek to inform and engage with communities, individuals, organisations and politicians in a manner which will be respectful and challenging
4. FFAN is committed to an ethos which is non-confrontational/non-intimidating/non-violent

Security in place at belcoo drill site

The Impartial reporter have confirmed that security measures have been put in place around the Acheson and Glover Quarry, where Tamboran Resources propose to carry out a bore drill.

tamboran security

The Impartial states:

Workers were busy clearing the site in preparation for drilling and a security firm was erecting fencing. There are a number of Alsation dogs on site too.
Early this morning (Monday) Tamboran officials visited Belcoo homes issuing letters and information leaflets, outlining its intention to drill nearby.
A protest has been organised at the site at 7pm this evening, with local anti-fracking protestor Donal Ó Cófaigh stating: “A community that has never been consulted about whether it wants to be fracked have yet again been treated in the most disrespectful manner by the company who want to PROFIT from this poisonous industry.”
These preparations are getting underway despite Environment Minister Mark H Durkan’s statement earlier today that questioned whether Tamboran has permitted development rights to drill its borehole. He said: “Before the company is given permission to proceed, a full screening process under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations will be required … If any aspect of this development is likely to have a significant environmental impact, permitted development rights will not apply. I have instructed officials to consider carefully whether or not these rights apply.”
Meanwhile, Tamboran has said that the proposed scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep. It will be drilled using “standard techniques and materials.” The drilling operation will be completed in approximately 30 days and rock samples will be examined on site and subsequently sent for laboratory ANALYSIS to better understand its content.
Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Dr Tony Bazley has said: “People have a right to the facts and that is what we are seeking to establish.”

To access the article, click here.

Tamboran to drill belcoo site by late august

It has been reported by the Impartial Reporter that Tamboran Resources are to begin their borehole drill in late august, amidst the news that equipment had arrived in the early hours of this morning.

FFAN

The Impartial Reporter state:

The scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep and will be drilled in a Belcoo site owned by Acheson and Glover’s (but not in its main Belcoo plant). There will be no fracking ivolved
Tamboran officials are on the ground in Belcoo this morning speaking to locals about their plans for fracking. The company says that it will NOT frack the Acheson and Glover site in the future.
In a statement released this morning a Tamboran spokesman said:Tamboran has today informed the Department of Environment and the Department of Enterprise, TRADE and Investment of its detailed plans to carry out this work before 30th September 2014. If granted permission to proceed, the company hopes to be able to commence drilling operations in late August.
The proposed scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep. It will be drilled using standard techniques and materials. The drilling operation will be completed in approximately 30 days and rock samples will be examined on site and subsequently sent for laboratory analysis to better understand its content.
The rock samples will be analysed to help confirm the presence of a natural gas source in County Fermanagh. This will enable the company to determine if it will be possible to extract the gas at a much later date, subject to full planning approval.
Making the announcement, Dr Tony Bazley, Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Ltd said:
“Tamboran’s intention at this stage is only to verify that the elements necessary for natural gas and its recovery are contained within the shale in County Fermanagh. This is fact-finding, not fracking. If County Fermanagh is home to a significant natural gas resource that could provide Northern Ireland with decades of a local secure energy supply then we believe the people have a right to know.
“We believe that the presence of natural gas in Northern Ireland could bring considerable benefits to the local and regional economy with the potential for billions of pounds of investment; hundreds and potentially thousands of jobs created locally and importantly for Northern Ireland a secure supply of energy that could last for decades and potentially help reduce local energy costs. However, we first need to make sure enough gas is there to be commercially viable and that we will not know for certain until the end of the licence period. This is just the first stage in that process,” said Dr Bazley.
The spokesman added: “The site near Belcoo, County Fermanagh is in an enclosed commercial area already used for heavy industrial purposes that will have limited visual impact. It will be secured on a 24/7 basis and the company will be taking all appropriate precautions to ensure the site is safe for workers and crucially local people. The company can also confirm that it will not seek to ‘frack’ on this site at any time in the future.”
Dr Bazley continued: “If the indications are that there is not enough natural gas that can be released from the shale rock then we will know this quickly and almost certainly decide not to continue with our investment in Northern Ireland. If we find a significant gas resource is likely we will continue to the end of the licence term in 2016. Before the end of the licence term a single site would be tested for natural gas if given planning permission.”
“Any future application will be subject to the strictest environmental, health and safety standards and the public would have their opportunity to participate. This however, is still a long way off and ultimately any decision to use hydraulic fracturing will be made by the Government of Northern Ireland.
“We suggest that given the potential benefit this can bring to everyone in Northern Ireland that this deserves serious consideration and debate. We would ask that people approach with an open mind and willingness to listen to all the facts before making an informed decision. We believe the people and Government of Northern Ireland have a right to know if there is gas beneath our feet. People have a right to the facts and that is what we are seeking to establish.”

To vies the article, click here.

Texas oil and gas regulators refuse to talk to media

It has been reported by the Associated Press that the Texas Oil and Gas regulators have implemented a blanket policy that bans staff from media engagements, raising questions into the level of transparency given by regulators to teh public in relation to unconventional shale gas extraction.

The Associated Press state:

“The three-member Texas Railroad Commission, which is one of the largest state agencies of its kind in the country, approved the policy in August 2012, shortly before Milton Rister took over as the commission’s executive director. Since then, he has used his authority to funnel all media inquiries through a spokeswoman who responds via email and bars any direct access to staff.

The commission, which also regulates pipelines and mining, devotes much of its time to permitting oil and gas drilling and production, ensuring wells are safe and investigating complaints or problems at those sites.

For a Texas agency to ban all media interviews is unusual. Typically, the media relations department is not the source of information, but rather acts as a liaison to connect journalists with the staff they need to speak with for a particular story.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a state agency whose responsibilities often overlap with the Railroad Commission, routinely grants interviews with staff members who are scientists and experts. The General Land Office, which is responsible for offshore oil spill cleanup, also allows staff to speak with the media.

“There needs to be some rationale behind the Railroad Commission or any agency to outweigh the public’s right to be informed,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who is on the Texas Legislature’s Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee.”

For access to the full article, click here.

‘Lancet’ medical journal raises detrimental health implications of fracking

One of the world’s oldest and best known peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, released a paper highlighting the realised risks that unconventional shale gas extraction poses to public human health.

lancet

The Lancet states that despite scientific study of the health effects of fracking being in its infancy, “findings suggest that this form of extraction might increase health risks compared with conventional oil and gas extraction [due to] larger surface footprints of fracking sites; their close proximity to locations where people live, work and play; and the need to transport and store large volumes of materials.”

The article further states that investigation into unconventional shale gas extraction in the USA has shown that, “risks of environmental contamination occur at all stages in the development of shale gas extraction.”

Problems with the structural integrity of the process, which is planned for county Fermanagh include: failure of well cement and casing, surface spills and leakage from above ground storage, gas emissions from gas processing equipment, and the large number of transport vehicles involved with transporting large volumes of chemicals.

The article draws attention and concern to detrimental health effects locally and globally. Locally, environmental contaminants such as volatile organic compounds, tropospheric ozone, diesel particulate matter, benzene, hydrocarbons, endocrine disrupting chemicals and heavy metals.

Source: aljazeera.com
The practice of unconventional shale gas extraction, otherwise known as fracking, has drawn criticism as a result of the negative impacts on human health and the environment. (Image source: aljazeera.com)

Globally, environmental threats to public health is the “contribution of shale gas extraction to green house gas emissions, and thus, climate change.”

In conclusion, the Lancet have recommended the implementation of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) that take into consideration not only public health risks during development of unconventional shale gas extraction, but the legacy left for public health over the long term also.

If you wish to read the peer reviewed article titled, “The health implications of fracking”, click here.

British Medical Journal criticises safety of fracking

The world renowned British Medical Journal(BMJ) has strongly criticised false assurances of safety given by the recent Public Health of England report which opined that whilst unconventional shale gas extraction posed a risk to public human health, it would not pose a health threat to humans on the European side of the Atlantic.

BMJ

The BMJ article, penned by Adam Law (Cornell Medical College), Jake Hays (PSE Health Energy), Seth B Shonkeff (PSE Health Energy) and Madelon Finkel (Cornell Medical College), draw attention to the fact that whilst the PHE Report acknowledges a real risk to public health, as shown by existing scientific research, the claim made by the report that the health risks will not exist for citizens of the UK and Ireland are theoretical at best.

“To the extent that they are technically and economically feasible, risk reduction technologies that mitigate adverse health outcomes should be deployed. However reviewing the public health aspects of the development of the shale gas industry requires more than merely gesturing to technological improvements that lack empirical data on their effectiveness in the real world. The optimism that fail-safe engineering solutions can ensure safe shale gas development may result more from a triumph of marketing than a demonstration of experience.”

oil fracturing drilling rig at dusk
oil fracturing drilling rig at dusk

The BMJ continues: “The [PHE] review appropriately acknowledges differences in geology and regulation between the United States and the United Kingdom. Yet in a leap of faith unsubstantiated by scientific evidence, its authors suggest that many of the environmental and public health problems experienced in the US would probably not apply to the UK. Unfortunately the conclusion that shale gas operations present a low risk to public health is not substantiated by literature.”

“Furthermore, the [PHE] report incorrectly assumes that many of the reported problems experienced in the US are the result of a poor regulatory environment. This position ignores many of the inherent risks of the industry that no amount of regulation can sufficiently remedy, such as well casing, cement failures, and accidental spillage of waste water. There is no reason to believe that these problems would be different in the UK, and the report provides little evidence to the contrary, despite repeated assertions that regulations will ensure safe development of shale gas extraction.”

The BMJ also draws attention to the fact that unconventional shale gas extraction, on this side of the atlantic, will be taking place in more densely populated areas, than usually seen in the US.

In conclusion the BMJ state that: “Rigorous, quantitative epidemiological research, is needed to assess the risks to public health, and data are just starting to emerge.”

To read the BMJ article in full, click here.

Public Consultation of Planning Process N.I.

The Department of Environment for Northern Ireland is holding Public Consultation on their Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS).

Consultation closes on the 29th of April 2014.

STORMONT

The benefit of this consultation is the provision of the opportunity for citizens, County Fermanagh and beyond, to have an input into the planning process which may have an effect on planning parameters for any and all applications, including Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction, also refered to as hydraulic fracking or hydraulic fracturing.

In the words of the DoE:

“Existing planning policies are currently detailed and operational in nature.  However, in preparing for the introduction of the two-tier planning system, it is intended that the consolidated planning policy document will be much more strategic in its focus, simpler and shorter. Key strategic policies will remain in place set out in the one document.

The SPPS will set out the core principles that planning authorities should observe in the formulation of local planning policy, the preparation of development plans and the exercise of development management functions.”

This consultation provides opportunity for local stakeholder involvement by all citizens, nationwide.

Included also, is consultation on the Strategic Environmental Assesment (SEA). This legislation is designed to gauge the likely impact and the pressures on the environment from any plans, programmes or projects which are likely to affect it.

If you wish to partake in the consultation, or want more information, you can do so here.

Your New Year resolution?

helpholly-3dFor over two years, the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network has been working to raise awareness of hydraulic fracturing, its side-effects and its implications for County Fermanagh and beyond. We’ve held public meetings, produced flyers, facilitated film showings, met with ministers, presented to organisations, reviewed reports, sold T-shirts, maintained web sites, written to newspapers and much more. Inevitably, during that period, some people have had to step down owing to work, family and other commitments. So we’re in need of new volunteers to help us continue with this vital work and ensure that the families, communities, businesses and wildlife of Fermanagh can continue to thrive. For, make no mistake, if we do nothing, fracking will certainly happen here.

So, why not make it your New Year resolution to help us in 2014? We especially need people with skills or experience in law, computers, writing, public relations and community organisation. If you could help out in any of these areas, we’d be delighted to hear from you. But don’t be put off if none of those are quite your thing – whatever your talents and background, from art to zoology, you can use them to keep Fermanagh clean, safe and frack-free for our children and our children’s children. Email us today at info@frackaware.com and bask in the warm glow of knowing you’re doing your bit. What could be more festive than that?

A very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year to you all. Thank you for all your support and we look forward to hearing from you.

Images used under licence https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Help_Wanted.png?uselang=en-gb and from http://www.christmas.newarchaeology.com/christmas-holly-clipart.php