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

Taxpayers to pay for fracking pollution if companies go bust

Taxpayers will pay to clean up any pollution caused by fracking if the companies go bankrupt.  A proposal to make UK operators take out insurance against such damage has been ruled out by the government, as reported in the Guardian newspaper.

Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for 'fracking', Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. (image source: guardian.com)
Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for ‘fracking’, Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. (image source: guardian.com)

 

As Rob Cunningham, head of water policy at the RSPB, said:

“The prime minister promised one of the most stringent regulatory regimes for fracking in the world but his government appears more interested in tax cuts than managing risk. It really doesn’t matter if you are pro or anti fracking, this proposal would simply ensure that when things do go wrong shareholders, not taxpayers bear the cost for cleanup if companies go bust or cease trading. If government’s response boils down to concerns over cost of insurance it sheds an interesting light on just how safe they really think the technology is.”

Read the full article here:

Taxpayers to pay for fracking pollution if companies go bust | Environment | theguardian.com.

Safety of fracking is far from assured

FFAN

A letter to the Independent newspaper from the Director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research, University of Stirling

You quote the Director of Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards that produced the fracking report (1 November), saying: “The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated.” The minister responsible for fracking in England states: “The UK has the most robust regulatory regime in the world for shale gas and companies will only be granted permission to frack for shale if their operations are safe.” Low risk is of course not the same as safe.

There are major questions too about how a government committed to a deregulatory and reduced regulatory agenda, along with chopping budgets – and the resulting major job losses in agencies that have oversight of environmental pollution – will be capable of guaranteeing that fracking companies operate safely.

Also extraordinary is the minister’s unsubstantiated statement that the UK has the most robust regulatory regime for fracking. In other countries the exact chemicals used in fracking have been covered by commercial confidentiality and are not disclosed fully. So how can their risks be fully assessed and cleared for UK use?

The draft review itself does not provide information indicating it is a systematic review and provides minimal information about its method, rigour and results. Public health practitioners look for high-quality systematic reviews before accepting any conclusion about a lack of public health risk.

The review also notes many gaps and specifically excludes consideration of occupational health and safety and climate change. This is a very odd way of assessing public health threats and could for example lead to the impression that climate change does not impact on public health: something strongly refuted by those working in the field.

All in all, the report raises as many questions as it attempts to answer and most certainly does not show that fracking is safe, as the UK Government tries to assert.

Professor Andrew Watterson

Director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research

University of Stirling

 

Letters: Safety of fracking is far from assured – Letters – Voices – The Independent.

We deserve better!

“We Deserve Better” all-Ireland fracking moratorium campaign launched.

A new North-South “We Deserve Better” campaign is being launched today in Enniskillen with the aim of stopping on-shore oil/gas exploration drilling or fracking in Northern Ireland. The campaign is directed at the Northern Ireland politicians and aims to get them to follow the example of Ministers Pat Rabbitte and Fergus O’Dowd in putting a stay on exploration while the joint North-South Government research into the environmental impacts of fracking is being carried out. The campaign initially asks all citizens, North and South, to email Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness (First Minister and Deputy First Minister) with a strong message.

BETTER

Dr Carroll O’Dolan from Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) stated:
“Given that the research study is a north-south initiative and is actually publicised as being an all-Ireland study, it is completely unacceptable that the Northern Ireland Executive has not suspended the licencing process and halted the work programmes of all exploratory companies in line with the Dublin government. Fracking is associated with a high risk of environmental contamination and has not been proven to be safe in the long term.”

“The situation is very serious, “ said Dr Aedín McLoughlin of Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI). “We in the South have successfully lobbied for an effective moratorium on exploration for 2 years. However, the Northern authorities have not followed suit and Tamboran have publicly stated they plan to start drilling later this year in an area in Fermanagh only six kilometres from the border. What is the point in stopping exploration in Leitrim if it is to go ahead in Fermanagh, part of the same shale area? Water knows no borders, especially in the Lakelands of Fermanagh & Leitrim! And why should the people of Northern Ireland not be given the same protection as people in the South?”

“This campaign is a joint initiative between FFAN [North] & GEAI [South]. We want it to be a really strong campaign and to have thousands of emails reaching Robinson and McGuinness immediately. This will be followed up by a letter-writing campaign to be directed at all politicians, North and South. We see this as a necessary step on the road to a long term moratorium on fracking in Ireland.”

For more details and to get involved, visit our We deserve better! page here.

Read on….

Readers of the Impartial Reporter this week have the opportunity to learn more about what fracking would mean for Fermanagh, in a clear and wide-ranging piece by FFAN chairman Dr. Carroll O’Dolan. For further information on the issues raised by Dr O’Dolan, please see below:

How HVHF operates – see diagrams here.

The report from Durham University stating the need for a minimum distance of 600m between a fracking area and aquifer here.  (This was confirmed by Professor Peter Styles in a recent debate at Stormont – watch it here.)

New York Times discovery of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s serious concerns about fracking here.

The announcement by the Irish government that they would wait for the research results before issuing new licences here.

For more information about how fracking will affect you, your home, family, job or business, see our series of information flyers here and to find out what you can do about it, click here.

 

 

 

 

Fracking: your decision?

A survey is being carried out about people’s understanding of their ability to influence decision-making about fracking in Ireland. The survey forms part of research for a Masters degree in Energy Management at IT Sligo and consists of ten short questions. Please take the survey here and spread the word to others.

Image from Marcellus Protest, under Creative Commons licence.

 

Public consultation on fracking research – your chance to speak

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.

FFAN

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.

Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland.