Meeting in Derrylin

Copyright: Ronan Mc Brien trekearth.com

Fracking in Fermanagh ~ How will it affect you? Rob Doyle, veterinary surgeon, will present an information evening giving the facts about hydraulic fracturing and its implications for agriculture, human and animal health, tourism, jobs, fishing and water and air quality. The event will take place on Monday 30th April at 8.30pm at Blakes, Derrylin and all are very welcome.

Meeting in Boho

Fracking in Fermanagh ~ How will it affect you?  Dr Aedin McLoughlin of Glenwood Research will present an information evening giving the facts about hydraulic fracturing and its implications for agriculture, health, tourism, jobs, fishing and water and air quality.  The event will take place on Wednesday 11th April at 8.30pm at Boho Community Centre and all are very welcome.

Meetings in Belcoo and Cashel

If you live in or near Belcoo or Cashel, and would be interested in joining a local fracking awareness group, now is your opportunity!  Meetings will be held on Wednesday 29th February at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Belcoo and on Thursday 1st March at 7.00pm in the Community Centre, Cashel.  All are very welcome and we look forward to meeting you.

Jessica Ernst speaking in Belcoo

Jessica Ernst on her land, photograph by Colin Smith

Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network is pleased to announce that Jessica Ernst will be speaking on the issue of ‘Fracking Inhumanity’ at the Belcoo Community Centre at 8pm on Tuesday 21 February, describing her personal experiences of living with the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Tamboran Resources recently announced that they are ready to progress to the next stage of their plans to extract gas by hydraulic fracturing in County Fermanagh. However, people from Fermanagh and beyond have pointed out the dangers that this process poses to public health, the environment and local industries such as agriculture and tourism. Indeed, in recent months, both Fermanagh District Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly have passed motions calling for a moratorium on the technique, though their calls have as yet gone unheeded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry, which granted the licence to Tamboran.

In the wake of these important events, this talk will be of interest to anyone who would like to know more about hydraulic fracturing and the realities of living in an area where such activity takes place.

Jessica Ernst is an environmental scientist, with 30 years’ experience in the oil industry. Fracking has been taking place near her farm in Alberta, Canada for the past 10 years. As a result she is forced to get water from outside sources because her well is poisoned and contains explosive levels of methane gas. She has filed legal actions against oil and gas company Encana, the Energy Resources Conservation Board and the Alberta Government with respect to their responsibility for this situation.

Jessica’s career and personal experience make her uniquely qualified to speak upon this subject. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear her as she exposes the dangers of fracking and answers questions about what the process has meant for her and her neighbours and how it could affect us here in Fermanagh.

Read more about Jessica here.

Meeting on cross-border links

A meeting is being held this Saturday, 4th February in Enniskillen, to explore ways in which campaigning  groups on this issue from across Ireland might co-ordinate, sharing ideas and support.   Those interested are invited to meet outside the Town Hall at 1pm, and the formal meeting will begin at 3pm in the Clinton Centre.  This event is not organised by the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network but FFAN is very pleased to note the growing public understanding of shale gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing which it represents.  The potential risks of the process to our health, environment and economies know no boundaries, and it is in all of our interests for the people of Ireland, the UK, Europe and the world to share developing research and experience.

Farmers express fracking fears

Our recent Fracking awareness meetings in Florencecourt and Cashel have been well attended by local people including many from the farming community. There was also a good turnout of fishermen at the Cashel meeting.

Farmers were particularly concerned about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the local agri-food industry. These small businesses are dependent on quality production to maintain their position in this niche market.   The slightest suggestion of contamination of beef or milk could mean financial ruin.  Speaking after the meeting Dr Carroll O’Dolan, spokesperson for FFAN, noted that where the farming community are struggling to survive in the current economic climate “even the perception of contamination could destroy the local agri-food industry”. At the end of the Cashel meeting committee members of the Garrison-Lough Melvin Anglers Association spoke of their concerns about fracking and its impact on the fishing on the famous waters of Lough Melvin.

 

Farmers who had diversified into tourism were equally anxious.  They spoke of huge personal and public investments in Fermanagh’s tourism industry.  This investment has created a brand recognised both nationally and internationally – ‘Fermanagh welcomes you naturally’.  But will tourists still want to come here if Fermanagh loses its green and clean image to become one of concrete, heavy industry and heavy traffic? If there is a long term risk of water contamination and/or toxic chemicals getting into the food chain how will our fishing and Lakelands fare?  There is a real concern that secure jobs in Fermanagh’s tourism industry could be under threat if ‘fracking’ is allowed to go ahead to be replaced by short term “potential” jobs.

Looking ahead, many were concerned about what happens when the extraction process is over.  “Industrialised land” covered with concrete and contaminated with chemicals both above & below ground, cannot be farmed; indeed the landowners may find themselves responsible for difficult and expensive clean-up operations.

Other farmers were downright angry; if they are strictly regulated and penalised if they deviate from DARD & DOE regulations, then why were four exploration licenses for shale gas and oil extraction issued in Northern Ireland with very little consideration as to the impacts on health, the environment, the rural way of life and no public consultation?

Fracking for unconventional gas and oil is a relatively new technology which is causing much controversy around the world and has been banned or put on hold in many regions.  It is significantly different from fracking for conventional gas & oil reserves, which has been used for the last sixty years. The British Geological Survey has concluded that fracking was the likely cause of the recent earthquakes near Blackpool, and that these earthquakes were between 10-100 times stronger than the usual low-level seismic activity that can normally occur in that area. A recent poll in the Guardian newspaper showed that 68.3% of respondents were opposed to fracking in the UK.

Closing the meeting in Florencecourt Dr O’Dolan said “We don’t know the long term impact that fracking will have on our health and the environment thus the precautionary principle should apply. The Governments should wait for the outcome of the very detailed studies being carried out in the USA & Europe, and both due for release in 2014. The ‘Sure we’ll see how it goes, if it turns out bad we’ll stop’ attitude is too dangerous.”