Dr McLoughlin’s presentation

One of the people who has done most over the past year to inform the public about fracking, and its probable effects on County Fermanagh and Ireland in general, is Dr. Aedin McLoughlin.  She has presented scientific information on the subject at public meetings across Northern Ireland and the Republic as well as appearing on television in debate with Tamboran Resources CEO Richard Moorman.  Many people have asked to see the slides from her presentation again and so we are very pleased to show them here and on our Documents page together with other authoritative reports and presentations.

Film-making opportunity …

Here’s a fantastic opportunity for young people in Fermanagh to develop their film-making skills at the same time as spreading a little environmental awareness:
Fermanagh Youth Film-making and Animation Summer Workshop
Dates: 16th – 20th July and 23rd – 27th July 2012
Times: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Venue: DMW Studio, Fermanagh House, Enniskillen
Price: £50 per participant per week
Participant Numbers: Max 10 per week
Participant Age: 11 – 25
Content:
This workshop will allow participants to explore a local environmental issue through the production of a documentary film, combining interviews, narrative images and animation sequences. The workshop will include hands on participation in:
* Planning a film
* Operating a camera
* Recording sound
* Conducting interviews
* Creating animation sequences – stop motion, CGI
* Editing a rough cut (using Final Cut Pro)
Registration
Participants may sign up for either week, or for both weeks. Registration must be made on the official form available to download at www.developmentmediaworkshop.org/courses.htm

Tyndall updated report

John Tyndall, the great (Irish born) 19th century physicist

The updated Tyndall Centre report on the environmental and climate change impacts of shale gas extraction has recently been released, and makes for sobering reading (which is why we’ve added a picture of Prof. Tyndall’s whiskers to cheer you up).  The key conclusions of the report are as follows:

1.There is little to suggest that shale gas will play a key role as a transition fuel in the move to a low carbon economy. … At the global level, against a backdrop of energy growth matching, if not outstripping, that of global GDP and where there is currently no carbon constraint, the exploitation of shale gas will most likely lead to increased energy use and increased emissions resulting in an even greater chance of dangerous climate change.

2. UK Government commitments on climate change require major investment in zero and very low carbon technologies; this is likely to be delayed significantly by the exploitation of shale gas.

3. Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions. … (I)n this energy-hungry world, with GDP growth dominating political agendas and no effective and stringent constraint on total global carbon emissions, the exploitation of an additional fossil fuel resource will likely feed increased energy use and an associated rise in emissions.

4. Evidence from the US suggests shale gas extraction brings a significant risk of groundwater and surface water contamination and until the evidence base is developed a precautionary approach to development in the UK and EU is recommended… An analysis of substances that have been used in the US suggests a significant number with toxic, carcinogenic, radiological or other hazardous properties.

5. Requirements for water in commercial scale shale gas extraction could put pressure on water supplies at the local level in the UK. Shale gas extraction requires high volumes of water. Given that water resources in many parts of the UK are already under pressure, this water demand could bring significant and additional problems at the local level. Conversely volumes of contaminated wastewater returning from wells will require careful disposal.

6. Exploiting shale gas within the UK is likely to give rise to a range of additional challenges. The UK is densely populated and consequently wells associated with commercial scale shale gas extraction will be relatively close to population centres. The proximity of such extraction will give rise to a range of local concerns for instance, high levels of truck movements on already busy roads and the potential for seismic disturbances, that require meaningful engagement, assessment, regulation and enforcement.

The full report, together with the Tyndall Centre’s earlier report from January 2011, is available on our Documents page.

A reminder …

… of the unparalleled beauty of County Fermanagh*, the unique landscape which underpins our healthy tourism and agriculture businesses, provides us with clean water, air and soil and brings to both local people and visitors endless sources of adventure, observation and contemplation.

*Some of the pictures show our neighbour County Leitrim, also licensed for the same fracking operation.

All photographs copyright Stephen Carson, not to be reproduced without permission.

Latest research

  The chair of FFAN, Dr Carroll O’Dolan, has put together this very useful list of the latest authoritative research available on the subject of fracking.

FFAN

1) TYNDALL CENTRE, UNIVERSITY of MANCHESTER.
SHALE GAS REPORT COMMISIONED BY THE CO-OPERATIVE BANK { 2011}

http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/technical-report/2011/shale-gas-provisional-assessment-climate-change-and-environmental

2) U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY DRAFT REPORT INTO GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION IN WYOMING {2011}
“ EXPLANATION BEST FITTING THE DATA [IS THAT] CONSTITUENTS ASSOCIATED WITH HYDRAULIC FRACTURING HAVE BEEN RELEASED INTO THE WIND RIVER DRINKING WATER AQUIFER”
3) EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: POLICY DOCUMENT {2011}
IMPACTS OF SHALE GAS AND SHALE OIL EXTRACTION ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND ON HUMAN HEALTH.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY PAGE 9.
4) THE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTION INDEX, COLORADO.
REPORT – NATURAL GAS OPERATIONS FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVE { 2011}
www.endocrinedisruption.com ON HOME PAGE CLICK INTO THE REPORT.
5) DOCTORS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AUSTRALIA INC. [ D E A ] http://www.dea.org.au
INQUIRY INTO COAL SEAM GAS { 2011 }

Update – where are we now?

Over the past few months a lot has happened, so here’s a quick summary of what has been going on.

April 1st 2011
DETI (the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment) granted a licence to Tamboran Resources to ‘search and bore for and get petroleum’ [the term includes gas] in a large area of County Fermanagh. The licence included a Work Programme divided into two parts. Part 1 was to cover years 1-3 (i.e. 2011 – 2014) and to include studies, assessments, sampling and reviews. Part 2 was to cover years 4-5 (i.e. 2014 – 2016) and to include finalising drilling locations, applying for permissions and drilling two wells in which hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) would take place.

December 6th 2011
The Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont debated the issue of hydraulic fracturing and passed a cross-party motion calling for a moratorium on the technique. Following the vote, the Enterprise Minister stated that ‘no hydraulic fracking licence has been issued’, apparently unaware of the terms of her department’s April 1st licence.

January 9th 2012
Fermanagh District Council passed a motion ‘that this council opposes the use of hydraulic fracturing for gas exploration in the Lough Allen Basin and that in the light of the backing by the Northern Ireland Assembly for the motion put forward by Steven Agnew MLA on hydraulic fracturing, we call for the Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster to place a moratorium on the licence granted to Tamboran Resources.”

 

Richard Moorman, Tamboran CEO

January 2012
It is understood that Tamboran Resources has advised Fermanagh District Council that it has completed its initial studies etc and that it will soon be seeking permissions to proceed to the drilling and hydraulic fracturing stages of the Work Programme. A statement to this effect from Tamboran is anticipated in the next few days.

 

These events raise several serious questions. These questions are likely to be asked not only by those opposed to hydraulic fracturing but also by those who are as yet undecided and those who are broadly in favour of the use of the technique.

1. How detailed and careful can the initial studies and assessments have been, if they have been completed in less than nine months? The industrial process of shale gas extraction has implications for geological formations (including the Marble Arch Caves), the local water system, including loughs, the water table, rivers and streams, public health including the necessity for clean air and drinking water, transport and congestion on small rural roads, agriculture, tourism, fishing and flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species. Each of these areas needs to be looked at in great detail, over at least an annual cycle, in order to have any hope of protecting our community and environment from damage.

2. No public consultation was carried out by DETI before awarding the licence to Tamboran and no prior notice was given to the Northern Ireland Assembly or Fermanagh District Council. Now both the Assembly and the Council have had the opportunity to debate the issue, and both have raised serious concerns, so serious that they have called for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. In view of this clear line taken by our elected representatives, and the widespread public concern which it reflects, is it really in the interests of democracy for DETI to carry on regardless?

3. Although it suits the gas industry to claim that it is highly regulated here, the truth is that neither Northern Ireland nor the UK as a whole have any laws or regulations specifically about hydraulic fracturing. It is very unclear whose responsibility it is to ensure the safety of workers, local people and the natural environment. The granting of licences is made under a law dating from 1964 and takes little or no account of nearly half a century of scientific, technological and environmental change. Here in Northern Ireland the situation is especially serious as we, unlike almost all other developed countries and regions, have no independent Environmental Protection Agency, and the nature of our ministerial system makes it very difficult for departments to work together. The whole process is far from straightforward, leaving local people with an unsettling question – Who is watching the gasmen?

John Cole, The Times-Tribune , Pennyslvania