14th May 2016, The Fermanagh Herald
THE Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN), which is campaigning against the extraction of gas in the Belcoo/Garrison area by ‘fracking’, this week repeated its fears that a quarry at Belcoo has been bought by the gas drilling company, Tamboran.
Last week, both the owners of the quarry, Acheson & Glover and Tamboran, denied that the quarry had changed hands.
However, a FFAN spokesman said it had been informed that Tamboran were in the process of either buying or re-leasing the quarry at Belcoo from its current owners.
The spokesman added: “We have been unable to confirm with certainty this process. However, if true, it is a very worrying development.
This development would mean that fracking in Fermanagh is in the process of being relaunched.”
She suggested that the issue was ‘above politics’ and asked that politicians of all parties ascertain as soon as possible the exact situation as to the above purchase/ re-lease of Belcoo quarry and inform the public of the facts.
“We would also ask them to act to stop the relaunching of the fracking industry in Fermanagh due to the severe health and environmental risks involved, and recognise that the issue of fracking is above normal political allegiances.
“As such it requires a cross-party response reflecting the wishes of the Fermanagh people who would prefer for our county to develop industries and jobs that are more viable, productive and sustainable than the ‘boom and bust’ fracking model.”
The spokesman referred people to FFANs recently launched flyer, now available for download from its website.
You may access the full article here.
31st July, BBC NEWS
Mark H Durkan meets Fermanagh anti-fracking campaigners
Environment Minister Mark Durkan has met people opposed to fracking in County Fermanagh.
Tamboran Resources wants to drill an exploratory borehole in a quarry near Belcoo to find out how much shale gas is in the ground.
Opponents see it as a first step that could lead to fracking.
Mr Durkan said his department would take into account people’s concerns before deciding if drilling can go ahead.
“There were a lot of suggestions today as to what and how my department should be looking at this notification or application from Tamboran,” he said.
Continue reading the main story
We want to impress upon him the public’s anger and concern that they are afraid about what is happening on their doorstep without any consultation from the company at all”
Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network
“There are a number of environmental concerns, health concerns, economic concerns and all of these are concerns that I have listened to today and that I will certainly consider when assessing this from Tamboran.”
Thomas McCaffrey, of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, said the test drill should be subject to a full planning application with an environmental impact assessment and potentially a public health impact assessment.
“We consider it to be unconventional gas exploration and extraction as one whole process and you can’t separate out the drilling of an initial exploratory borehole from the whole process of unconventional gas extraction,” he said.
“We impressed upon him the need for the public to see that their politicians are doing something to alleviate the situation, because people are out there camping and, if nothing’s done, they’re going to be there in December, because people are that passionate about it, they’re not going to leave until they’re convinced that something is being done about it.
“We want to impress upon him the public’s anger and concern that they are afraid about what is happening on their doorstep without any consultation from the company at all.”
On Wednesday, Tamboran was granted an extension to a High Court injunction to stop protesters getting close to a quarry.
Protesters against the fracking have been holding a vigil at the quarry.
The company said the extension was granted due to “unlawful incidents”.
Last Friday, Tamboran was granted a court order that prohibits people from entering or occupying land at Gandrum Road, or preventing Tamboran from carrying out exploratory mining operations and obstructing access to and from the site.
The quarry is owned by Acheson and Glover and Tamboran has taken out a four-month lease to carry out exploratory drilling work.
You may access this article here.
3rd June 2014, The Fermanagh Herald
Tamboran have promised in 2011/12 to be fully transparent with the public with regards to their plans & timeline for drilling and fracking in
Tamboran have stated that they wish to acquire a ‘social license’ before they proceed with their drilling. This ‘social license’ means that Tamboran aims to be so open and persuasive in their in their dealings with the Fermanagh public to the extent that the public will be in favour of fracking.
Therefore FFAN assume that Tamboran will not be carrying out any
drilling or exploratory work in the next two months [July/August] as this would be in breach of their own ideals. If Tamboran drill between 5 July & 1st September 2014 [the traditional holiday period and also Stormont Assembly recess] then this would imply that Tamboran are not seeking genuine transparency or interaction either with the public or the publics elected MLA’s & Ministers.
1st April 2014, the fermanagh herald
Local outrage as ‘The Sun’ backs fracking campaign
LOCAL anti-fracking campaigners have hit out at a decision by The Sun newspaper to urge readers to sign a petition to ‘Get Fracking started’. The appeal appeared in the paper on Wednesday past, saying: “David Cameron yesterday urged the UK to embrace fracking so we can get cheap shale gas and not be reliant for fuel on unpredictable and volatile states such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
The piece went on: “And he [Cameron] called on the public to ignore scare stories about the perils of drilling for shale gas – insisting there was a ‘lack of understanding’ about how fracking works.” But, Thomas McCaffrey, pictured, from Tamlaght, and living in Cashel, is chairman of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN), and said that The Sun, ‘would not need to be running such campaigns if the public had already decided that fracking was the way forward’.
“The fact that The Sun is taking an actively pro-fracking stance on behalf of business and government is actually heartening, because it shows that there is concern about the progress of groups like ourselves who are awareness raising and carrying out political lobbying.”
And, Enniskillen anti-fracking candidate in the upcoming local elections, Belcoo man Donal O’Cofaigh, described the article as ‘no surprise’. “It comes as no surprise that The Sun – owned by a private company managed by billionaire tycoon Rupert Murdoch – has came out on the side of the fracking industry.
“Over decades, he has consistently used his media empire to stand firmly on the side of big business and the super-rich and there is a concerted effort by various of his papers and TV channels – including Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and now the Sun to run pro-fracking campaigns.”
He added: “In Fermanagh, the construction of 2,800 frack wells would devastate our countryside and threaten thousands of jobs in tourism and agriculture.”
“Big business, their political representatives and the corporate-owned press are all lining up behind fracking.
“They are only interested in profit, no matter the cost to people’s health, living standards and our environment.
“All the Stormont parties have failed to use their powers to remove this threat from Fermanagh. “It’s now up to ordinary people to get organised and stop the frackers in their tracks.”
You may access the article here.
14th February 2014, al jazeera
Northern Ireland county demands fracking vote
Global news network Al Jazeera visited Counties Fermanagh and Leitrim in order to investigate the proposed non-legally binding referendum on Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE) in County Fermanagh, and the potential environmental impact on neighbouring County Leitrim.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, FFAN Environmental Co-ordinator Andrew Gallagher had this to say: “The environment is going to change to a state that we’ve never seen before. [USGE] is also irreversible which is a huge worry for humans here.” He further opined, “If it is irreversible and it goes wrong, there’s nothing you can do.”
Leah Doherty stated:
“This industry taking foot in Northern Ireland, we believe, cannot go ahead in Northern Ireland because of the trans-boundary issues, and that has not been addressed by the authorities.” She further added, “We have not been represented as communities on the border.”
Al Jazeera contacted Tamboran resources in regards to their fracking operations and asked if they would carry out unconventional shale gas extraction if the majority of the people from County Fermanagh were against it. Furthermore, Al Jazeera asked Tamboran what they thought might happen if they pollute the waters both North and South of the border.
Tamboran replied that they: “have been granted a government license and look to begin testing this year.”
You can access the full video link here @ Al Jazeera.com.
15th January 2014, fermanagh herald
New anti-fracking chairman claims company are ‘drilling under the radar’
THE new chairman of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) Tom McCaffrey believes the campaign to stop the extraction of shale gas in the county is ‘winnable’, but expressed concerns the process may have already begun. Mr McCaffrey, originally from Tamlaght, now living in Cashel is a dentist at Forthill Dental Practice, Enniskillen and replaces outgoing chairman Dr Carroll O’Dolan, who will remain involved with the group as the health spokesman.
Speaking to the Herald, the former FFAN secretary explained that after moving back to Fermanagh six years ago he and his family had planned to live in a rural idyll, but he said this was now under threat from fracking.
Despite the concerns though, he is optimistic at the challenge ahead. “I think it’s a winnable campaign, that’s the main thing, I think there’s a long way to go before it will be lost, but my concern would be that things are happening outside public consultation.”
Mr McCaffrey claimed that drilling may have already began in the county, expressing his belief that fracking company Tamboran are ‘acting very much under the radar’. “Tamboran is about to put a drill in the ground or may have already put a drill in the ground in the next week or two and they have had no public consultation of any kind.
“We had a Freedom of Information request into NIEA, they had a meeting with Tamboran on November 27 and they were due to put a permitted development application to them on December 6 with a view to starting in the last week of January.”
Since Christmas the group have heard nothing from Tamboran and the new chief of FFAN is keen to meet with them to hear their plans. “They have never met with us, we have asked on numerous occasions and we would like even a public meeting, not just with us.
“They had a couple of initial meetings way back in November, but apart from that there has been nothing.” In his spell as chairman Mr McCaffrey has cited raising awareness as his main goal. “There’s still people in Fermanagh that don’t know about fracking and we just want to keep turning up to community events, showing them the film, answering questions and generally promoting as much awareness as possible, that’s the main goal.
“We are planning several more screenings of the film; ‘Fracking in Fermanagh- What does it mean?’ and we will be engaging with the election process, but not directly involved with it. “We will be asking questions of the parties, but we have no plans to stand or we’re not going to endorse anyone, but we will be asking everybody searching questions to make sure their positions are clear.”
“The film has been very well received, everyone that has seen it has been amazed at it and it’s just a case of getting it more widely shown, our plan is to send a copy of it to every MLA in Northern Ireland and make sure that everybody sees it. “This is a gorgeous area and to think what could conceivably happen to it is ridiculous.”
You can access the article here.
15th January 2014, fermanagh herald
Ratepayers will foot the bill for ‘bribes’ ‘Bribery’, ‘Arm twisting’ and ‘sweeteners’ were the words used by a local fracking opposition group in reaction to the news that councils in England and Wales could keep more money in tax revenue if they support the drilling process.
Just two days ago Prime Minister David Cameron announced the generous tax incentives for councils if they back fracking and has urged opponents to ‘get on board’ stating that the process ‘could bring 74,000 jobs’, ‘over £3bn of investment’, give cheaper energy for the future and increase energy security.
Dr Carroll O’Dolan of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network is not convinced.
“This latest ‘tax incentive’ to local councils in England and Wales is another attempt by the Westminster government to force through on an unwilling public an industry that is not popular, not wanted and not necessary.
“So David Cameron, rather than dealing with the real issues around HVHF (High Volume Hydraulic Fracking) that makes it so unpopular in the UK, he resorts to bribery. If HVHF was so great, there would be no need for all this arm twisting and sweeteners to the councils.”
FFAN have warned that while extra money for councils may seem at the outset, further problems lie further down the road. “Councils beware: the Whitehall Government has also recently announced that the HVHF companies will be exempted from the onerous costs of holding insurance bonds and policies that normally exist to ensure that heavy industry pays for any clean ups and environmental degradation caused by their actions.
“Thus if a HVHF company goes bust on the mainland it will be left to the local taxpayers in each area to pay for the clean ups and long term consequences of HVHF.
“We hope the Northern Ireland Executive will show no such incompetence as to allow the same scenario to arise here. Otherwise if Tamboran or its successor goes bankrupt, as has happened several USA fracking companies recently, then the Fermanagh taxpayers can expect to receive a huge bill as a result.”
FFAN were not in attendance at the protest outside the Town Hall on Thursday as on the same day they had a meeting with officers of Fermanagh District Council, in which they raised their many concerns about fracking in Fermanagh. At this meeting it was decided that the group would compile a dossier of the growing evidence that shows that HVHF is ‘neither healthy for the environment, ourselves or our economy’.
You can access the article here.
30th November 2013, fermanagh herald
Fracking opponents welcome plans to look into safety issues A NEW research programme into the safety of fracking is to be carried out over a period of two years and those that oppose the controversial gas extraction process hope enough evidence will be gathered to ensure Fermanagh’s natural landscape remains unspoilt.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tender for a two-year research programme into fracking. The programme will further the understanding of the potential impacts on the environment and human health from fracking projects/operations (including construction, operation and aftercare).
It will also involve extensive reviews of practices worldwide and will be supported by baseline-monitoring throughout Ireland. The all-Ireland research programme, funded by EPA, the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), aims to provide further definitive evidence on the potential impacts of fracking operations in Ireland.
Dr Carroll O’Dolan, chairman of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) welcomed the additional research. “FFAN welcomes any research that looks into fracking, especially the long term health risks and an insight into the cost benefits. This research will, we believe, show that High Volume Hyrdaulic Fracking is not good for society.
“Unfortunately Taboran/DETI are going ahead with core test drilling in early 2014 and FFAN would ask the people of Fermanagh and the elected representatives to support our campaign ‘We Deserve More’.
Mr O’Dolan noted that the government in the South are to wait for the outcome of this research and suggested that an all-Ireland approach should be taken, given that DOE has been part of the process along with representatives from the South. He believes a full-impact assessment is necessary to ensure all the potential dangers are known before it’s too late.
You can access the full article here.
16th August 2013, fermanagh herald
Uproar over Cameron’s endorsement for fracking MINISTER David Cameron has this week urged the public to see fracking as a viable option for Britain – leaving a local campaign group up in arms. In a self-penned article in the ‘Telegraph’, the prime minister described the fracking debate as something he was, ‘determined to win’.
Fracking, the controversial shale gas extraction method, could come to Fermanagh as soon as 2014. He wrote: “If we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive. Without it, we could lose ground in the tough global race.”
He compared Britain to the US. “This reservoir of untapped energy will help people across the country who work hard and want to get on: not just families but businesses, too, who are really struggling with the high costs of energy.
“Just look at the United States: they’ve got more than 10,000 fracking wells opening up each year and their gas prices are three-and-a-half times lower than here.” And, the prime minister aimed to dispel so-called myths associated with the controversial shale-gas extraction method.
“We are issuing very firm guidance: firms looking to frack should make people aware of their plans well before they apply for a permit. Equally, we must make the case that fracking is safe. “International evidence shows there is no reason why the process should cause contamination of water supplies or other environmental damage, if properly regulated.
“And, the regulatory system in this country is one of the most stringent in the world. If any shale gas well were to pose a risk of pollution, then we have all the powers we need to close it down.” He said he would never sanction something that might ruin our landscapes and scenery.”
However, Tanya Jones, a member of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) and author of, ‘Fracking Up’, claimed that the prime minister is ‘unfortunately wrong on many important points’. “Experts have shown that shale gas would not be a ‘game-changer’ in terms of UK energy prices.
“Jobs would be few, low-skilled and short-term, far outweighed by the jobs and livelihoods likely to be lost in sectors such as agriculture and tourism.” She refuted David Cameron’s claims that there would not be damage to the countryside, and she suggested that a well-attended G8 ‘fracking’ protest march in Enniskillen had been dismissed by politicians.
“These were ordinary local residents who are concerned for their families, their neighbours and the county which they love.” Speaking yesterday, Tuesday, the North’s Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan said agreeing to fracking at present would be ‘reckless and irresponsible’. He said no decision should be taken until all facts and scientific evidence are established.
He stated: “At present, there is no planning application for fracking in Northern Ireland. If and when any application comes in, it will be for me to decide, not David Cameron.
You can access the press release here.
18th April 2013, fermanagh herald
New fracking report doesn’t tell the full story A RECENT STUDY which states that fracking is not a significant cause of earthquakes has been questioned by the two local groups who oppose its implementation in Fermanagh. The report from Durham University found that tremors were barely noticeable from fracking after looking at operations in America.
Dr Caroll O’Dolan, of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) expressed his concerns at the findings. He commented: “It is well recognised that High Volume Hydraulic Fracking (HVHF) causes earthquakes. “The issue is not what damage occurs on the surface following a ‘small’ earthquake measuring, say 2.0 or 3.0 on the Richter scale. The issue is how much damage these earthquakes triggered by HVHF have on the integrity of the pipes and cement that are located right smack in the middle of the earthquake.”
Dr O’Dolan, who lives near Belcoo, in the heart of the area to be ‘fracked’, went on: “Indeed, it is the high pressure fluid going down the HVHF bore hole and pipes that triggers the seismic activity that then damages the HVHF pipes and increases further the leakage from these pipes which already have a 5% per year failure rate.” He referred to a government report into the triggering of an earthquake in Lancashire by HVHF.
“It stated that deformation of the pipes had occurred. These earthquakes also result in rogue frack lines communicating with both old and new fault lines [caused by the earthquake], thus increasing further the migration of frack fluid and other toxic substances in the sub-surface terrain.”
You can read the press release here.
11th April 2013, fermanagh herald
Musicians gather to promote fracking awareness A large crowd gathered on Friday night past at a Fracking Awareness gig held in Charlie’s Bar.
Organised by Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN), many local acts responded to the call.
Fundraiser for FFAN, Janie Cronie, commented:
“It was great – there was a good turnout. Most of the advertising was done through the FFAN Facebook page, so everybody knew why they were there.”
Janie said that the aim of the gig was both the fund-raising aspect and to keep the debate over the controversial shale gas extraction method ‘up front’.
You can access the article here.
30th March 2013, fermanagh herald
Tax breaks for fracking companies spells bad news WHILE the penny on the pint and the abolition of the proposed 3p hike on fuel may have stolen the headlines from the 2013 budget, falling under the radar was the backing given by the British Government to ‘fracking’. This is the name given to the extraction of shale gas, of which, it is believed, there is sufficient supplies in the Lough Allen Basin, in west Fermanagh to sustain the north’s needs.
The issue arose last week when, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne unveiled generous tax breaks for fracking companies as part of his budget. He commented: “Shale gas is part of the future. And we will make it happen.” Fracking companies will get a tax allowance for developing gas fields, and, for the next 10 years, they will be able to offset their exploration spending against tax.
In spite of the concern regarding water pollution, small earth tremors and various other environmental set-backs, it appears the green light has been given for fracking company, Tamboran. As the company seeking exploratory licences around Belcoo, this spells bad news for those opposed to it, locally.
Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network said it had noted Mr Osborne’s actions on tax breaks for fracking companies and they admitted their disappointment at the decision. Speaking to the Herald, FFAN Chairperson Carroll O’Dolan , referring to the Minister’s, ‘we will make it happen’, stated: “These are not the words one expected from a Government who have said they will wait to get as much information and research as possible on the safety and environmental impacts of fracking.
“We find it incredible that something that is claimed will bring economic prosperity to different parts of the UK requires so much taxpayers’ money to make it viable.” He submitted that it would be the public who will have to pay the cost of road and electricity upgrades to allow fracking, and for the laying of gas grids across the countryside to transport unconventional gas north, south, east and west to the highest bidder. He also noted plans to introduce the ‘fracking’ technique to the other five counties in the north. “DETI (department of enterprise and industry) seem to be sidelining the NIEA/DoE who only this month have been facilitating public consultation into terms of reference for, an ‘all Ireland/all island’ research into fracking.
“That research project is to take twenty months to complete. The Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network demand that our Northern Ireland Executive show respect for that agreed ‘all island’ research and allow it to be carried out without hindrance or influence. “However, the ‘gung-ho’ approach from both the Belfast and London governments suggests that they have already made up their minds on how they will view that research.”
You can access the press release here.
[From September 2012]
18th January 2013
Canadian Chief Medical Officer of Health – Presentation on Health & Fracking at Killyhevlin Hotel
Dr Elish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health, New Brunswick, Canada, is guest speaker at a seminar being held in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen on Monday 28th January at 8pm. This will be Dr Cleary’s only speaking engagement on the Island of Ireland while she is here on holiday. Dr Cleary will be speaking on her report, Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick.
In preparing this report, Dr Cleary was offering recommendations to the New Brunswick authorities to help them before and during any expansion of the shale gas industry (fracking) in the area. She developed the report through a critical review of the experience of shale gas development in other jurisdictions, considering impacts (both positive and negative) to public health. In the course of preparing the report she reviewed scientific case studies and conferences, held discussions with public health and environmental experts, and examined in detail the current public debate on shale gas.
FFAN, a local cross-community network who are working to raise awareness of issues surrounding the development of the shale gas industry in Fermanagh, are hosting this event with the support of the Killyhevlin Hotel. Enniskillen Dental Practitioner, Tom McCaffrey, Secretary for FFAN, is expecting a large turnout at the meeting. He noted that there is a huge appetite for information about the shale gas industry in the community, where people want informed discussion and debate on the issues. He added that this event will be of particular interest to anyone concerned about public health. “We are aware that health professionals and politicians often lead very busy lives so we have informed them early to be sure that they have time to include the event in their diaries. Invitations have been sent to many Government Ministers (including those with ministerial responsibility for DETI, DOE, DARD & DHSSPs), also to MLAs and local councillors as well as senior civil servants, GPs, medical doctors and other health professionals including the Chief Medical Officers of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To date we have only received five apologies. We are looking forward to an fascinating and enlightening evening”.
Dr Carroll O’Dolan, Chairperson of FFAN says there is much that can be learnt from this report. “We are very fortunate that Dr Cleary agreed to give this presentation. Her report does not claim to be a full assessment of the health related issues associated with shale gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing. It does, however, represent a professional and balanced look at this industry from a health perspective. It offers a series of recommendations which as health professionals we cannot ignore. Our own government would do well to use this report as an initial template, facilitating a community consultation process on the proposed shale gas development in Northern Ireland”.
Dr Cleary’s report offers advice (to the New Brunswick authorities) on measures that should be put in place to maximize the health benefits and minimize the health risks related to shale gas development if the decision is taken to go ahead with it. These recommendations are developed around five key areas which include protection of health and community well-being, protection of future generations and implementation and oversight, all taking account of the guiding principles for the protection of public health. If fracking goes ahead close monitoring is required so, as Dr. Cleary says, “This will allow for modifications, including if warranted, a slow down or halting of further development”. A copy of the report is available to download from the FFAN website www.frackaware.com . Further details on the meeting are also available on the website. FFAN is keen to emphasise that although aimed at health professionals, this is a public meeting and everyone is welcome.
As the Executive Summary notes, Dr Cleary’s report identifies both the known issues that should be addressed and the unknowns which require further investigation. Shale gas development in Northern Ireland may bring some economic benefits but we must ensure that these are not far outweighed by adverse health outcomes for our community and our children.
28th September 2012
On Tuesday 25th September, the Killyhevlin Hotel generously sponsored a Public Meeting of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) in order to stimulate greater interest throughout the community in the new process of high pressure hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which is part of the unconventional shale gas extraction process proposed for County Fermanagh (and Leitrim). The meeting was very well attended by a large audience from all walks of life of the local community.
The meeting was chaired by Bridie Sweeney (FFAN) and began with a presentation by Dr Aedin McLoughlin. Questions were then put to a panel, including Dr McLoughlin. A broad range of interests relevant to the community were represented by the other members of the panel: Sean Maguire (fishing), Dr Carroll O’Dolan (FFAN Chair and health), Marius Leonard (tourism) and John Sheridan (agriculture).
Media on the night was covered by a production team working with Nick Crane: geographer, explorer, writer and broadcaster, but better known by many from BBC2’s popular series, Coast. Nick and his team attended the event as part of a new series, Town, in which Enniskillen is to feature. Ivan Little, well-known, Belfast-based independent freelance journalist and producer, and David Wright, the Northern Ireland Deputy Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal also made the long journey, as well as members of the local press.
The risk of potential long-term damage to our two most valuable industries – tourism and agriculture – in particular when weighed against any potential benefits to our community was discussed. It was emphasised that even the perception of contaminations within the food industry could have extremely damaging and permanent implications for both tourism and agriculture.
The danger of widespread pollution of our waterways was also covered and the potential irreversible danger of contamination of our public and private drinking water supplies to both human and animal health, as well as the potential to jeopardise our local and wider food industries. Fishing, another very important industry, which employs many local people and attracts visitors from all over the world, could potentially be wiped out with the irreversible loss of indigenous species such as the Sonaghan Trout, which is found nowhere else in the world.
Quarries and haulage businesses could benefit initially if plans for unconventional gas extraction go ahead and there would be a number of short-term, unskilled jobs available. When asked about the promise of cheap gas for Northern Ireland, a member of the panel pointed out that if proper regulation is put in place extraction costs will increase, resulting in expensive gas. The economics of extraction could actually mean that gas imported from the United States could be cheaper than what would be extracted in Fermanagh.
A grid of new roads and tracks would also be needed, with a huge increase of heavy traffic across the county and beyond. Existing roads would require extra maintenance at local ratepayers’ expense. However, it was again pointed out by the panel that new roads would be unlikely to come until old ones were completely ruined by the endless stream of heavy equipment which would be needed for drilling and extraction to take place.
The duration that fracking would continue for in this area is uncertain but would probably be about 30 years. In theory the company involved would be required the restore the landscape to its previous state before departure but in reality any contamination of water and land, and the resulting damage to wildlife, agricultural livestock and even the health of the whole community would be impossible to restore.
In conclusion, it was felt that the risks associated with fracking here in Fermanagh are too great at present and that much more thorough, independent research is required into the possible long-term issues of health and the disposal of contaminated waste.
FFAN again expresses its thanks to Mr Rodney Watson for the excellent venue, presentation facilities and of course tea and coffee on the night, which were crucial for the accommodation of television crews, PR and in particular, the large audience.
5th September 2012
A delegation led by FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network] chairperson, Dr Carroll O’Dolan, had a very positive meeting with the Environment Minister, Mr Alex Attwood in Belfast on 5. 09. 2012.
The delegation also included Dr Patrick McGurn [Ph.D. in Ecology], Davide Gallazzi [Geologist], Dr Aedin McLoughlin [Ph.D in Biochemical Pharmacology] and Lady A. Hamilton [Federation President of Women’s Institutes of Northern IrelandThe delegation raised several areas of concerns with Mr Attwood including the risk of water contamination both in the long and short term, the risk of air and soil contamination, public health risks secondary to water, soil and air contamination, and the lack of genuine engagement by the exploration company [Tamboran] with the people most affected by the development of shale gas ‘fracking’ in County Fermanagh.