Anti-fracking protesters keep up the pressure at Belcoo test site

The Fermanagh Herald has reported:

THE CULMINATION of a week’s’ worth of daily protests was one in which around 400 attended on Sunday evening. Opposition has been growing following the announcement that fracking company Tamboran are to begin test drilling at a site in Belcoo in the coming weeks.

The test drilling, which will not involved ‘fracking’ is the first of two planned by the company and will give them more details of natural gas here. Since the ‘opening day’ protest, held on Monday July 21, where around 300 were in attendance, there have been daily protests at the site – with protesters encouraging a larger attendance for the Sunday night.

Local cross-community, campaign group, Belcoo Frack Free, formed following the first night of protests, unveiled the first phase of its campaign to halt gas exploration works at Creenahoe Quarry near Belcoo. Following a demonstration held on Sunday, a spokesman for Belcoo Frack Free said:

“Our campaign has established, and is maintaining, a continuous presence at the gates since Tamboran moved onsite last Monday (July 21). We are organising daily, peaceful evening protests which are attracting growing numbers and which end with locals and visitors providing a musical performance at the gates most nights.” Over the weekend the group published a code of conduct ‘to ensure that our demonstrations remain peaceful and dignified and keep the focus on what Tamboran are doing at the site’.

A renovated mill is now in use as a campsite, the group said, ‘to accommodate the growing numbers of campaigners coming to support the protest from across Ireland and the UK’. “The population of Fermanagh, from both communities, is highly concerned with the threat posed by this industry and remains implacably opposed to its development,” the spokesman concluded.

To access the article, click here.

N.I. Minister for the environment visits enniskillen

Today, the BBC reported that Minister of the Department of the Environment, Mr Mark H. Durkin MLA, visited the town of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh to discuss topics relating to Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction within County Fermanagh.

Mark-H-Durkan

The talks were held with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, Ban Fracking Fermanagh, Sinn Fein representatives Mr. Phil Flanagan MLA, Ms. Michelle Gildernew MP, Mr. Michael Colreavy TD, and SDLP Councillor Mr. Brendan Gallagher. Further to this, the meeting was attended by concerned citizens of Belcoo, where a proposed exploratory well bore is due to take place.

The BBC report:

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.

“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.”

To read the article in full, click here.

Tamboran’s belcoo ‘information leaflet’ in full

On the 21st of July 2014 at 5am with drilling equipment for the proposed exploratory borehole, they provided the following 4-page ‘Information Leaflet’ to the residents of Belcoo.

Here, the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network presents the 4 page leaflet in full for public viewing.

Page 1: Introduction
Here, Tamboran Resources introduce themselves, and their goals, drawing attention to the fact that they have been granted a five year exploration licence (that started 1st April 2011):

T1

Page 2: Purpose
Here, Tamboran Resources outline basic information about their exploratory borehole drill in Belcoo, following up with information on what happens after the exploratory borehole, before outlining perceived potential benefits of their project.

T2

Page 3: FAQ
The third page of the information leaflet outlines frequently asked questions, before drawing attention to a section entitled, “What the Independant experts have to say about shale gas.” This final section of page three is quite important, and teh Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network would encourage citizens of County Fermanagh and beyond to browse though those references in full, in particular, the InterGovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and The Public Health of England report which was recently and heavily criticised by the world renowned British Medical Journal:
T3

Page 4: Contact Details and References
Finally on page four, Tamboran Resources, provide a helpline number were one inclined to acquire more information:
T4

Before providing a list of eight references:
T5

The references of which FFAN would like to share electronically for public viewing below.

What is of concern for FFAN and citizens of County Fermanagh, isn’t so much what Tamboran Resources have put in their information leaflet, rather, the concern lies with the wealth of scientific research and evidence that they left out (For instance, the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, the Medical Journal of Australia, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, FFAN-FACTS). A wealth of scientific research which sadly, has become a stark reality for numerous communities around the world. Only when one weighs up all the scientific evidence together, can they make an informed, robust decision.

Question: Of the perceived potential benefits of unconventional shale gas extraction, as laid out by Tamboran Resources, which of them are supported by the references provided by Tamboran, laid out below?

Here are the eight references provided by Tamboran Resources:
1) Reference 1 click here.
2) Reference 2 click here.
3) Reference 3 click here.
4) Reference 4 click here.
5) Reference 5 click here.
6) Reference 6 click here.
7) Reference 7 click here.
8) Reference 8 click here.

Tamboran cover letter for residents of Belcoo

When Tamboran Resources arrived in Belcoo in the early hours of the morning (5am), 21st July, residents were not only greeted with the sound of traffic, but also this cover letter through their letter box by 9am:

Tamboran Cover letter

The third paragraph from the bottom states:

“We know there has been a campaign against shale gas, and regret the amount of misinformation that this has generated.”

Thankfully, the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network double checks and references all our facts, such as the British Medical Journal, who have stated the following about unconventional shale gas extraction:

“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.”

The Medical Journal of Australia who stated that:

Unconventional gas extraction is responsible for air pollution from diesel fumes from infrastructure development and stationary equipment, gas processing, venting and flaring. Fugitive methane emissions can catalyse development of ground level ozone and combine with PM to form smog, both of which contribute to respiratory disease, among other health effects, and damage to crops — gas- field haze is a well known effect in the US, with such pollution capable of travelling substantial distances. Shale gas extraction can also involve the flaring or venting of “associated” gases, which can become hazardous air pollutants.

And world renowned medical Journal, The Lancet who stated 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 Lancet went further to state that the, “risks of environmental contamination occur at all stages in the development of shale gas extraction.”

Whilst in fact the proposed exploratory borehole drill will not include any hydraulic fracturing, it is recognised as the first step towards the process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction in County Fermanagh.

Beginner’s guide to fracking: 6 fracking and your land

Could my land be fracked without my knowledge or permission?
Almost certainly, yes. The horizontal drill shafts can extend 1,500 meters from the well and the fractures can reach a further 600 meters. So if there is a well within that distance of your land, it’s likely that fracking will happen underneath you.

ferm farm

Would I be paid for this?
Probably not, unless the centre of the well itself is on or within a quarter mile of your land. Most oil and gas rights in Northern Ireland are owned by DETI and any royalties would go to the UK treasury. Even if you’re entitled to a share of the royalties, this is dependant upon actual gas extracted and saved through that particular well, so there’s no guarantee you would receive anything.

Can I be forced to have a well or access road built on my land?
Yes, under the Mineral Development Act, DETI has compulsory purchase and access rights (Mining Facility Orders) and it can pass the benefit of these on to the gas companies.

Would I be compensated for disturbance, subsidence, damage or the decreased value of my land?
Not automatically, no, other than any standard payment under a Mining Facilities Order. Apart from that, you would have to go to court, at great trouble and expense, to sue the gas companies. The legal position is unclear, but you would only probably succeed if you could show actual negligence and physical damage.

And if the company went bust or was wound up?
You would be unlikely to receive anything, and could be left with the responsibility and expense of decontaminating your land.

ferm2

Would I be insured against any of these risks?
It depends upon your exact situation, policy and insurance company. You would be wise to check very carefully. Standard agricultural policies do not cover fracking activities on your own land.

But hasn’t fracking been going on in the states for ages with no problems?
Not exactly. This type of high volume hydraulic fracturing has only been used for the past decade or so, and has caused severe problems for local land owners. The gas companies have been exempt from much environmental legislation (of teh kind that farmers have to abide by) and so there has been little monitoring of their activities. When a problem such as contaminated water arises, residents have very often been forced to sign gagging clauses, so they cannot go public about their experiences.

But it would be better here, wouldn’t it?
Not necessarily. We have no specific laws about fracking, so are dependant on regulations drawn up for very different operations administered by bodies which are unfamiliar with the technology, often with a lack of resources and a poor history of enforcement. Fermanagh also has a very different landscape from most of America, with our complex network of loughs, rivers and streams, our rich habitats and unique geological heritage. If Fermanagh’s landscape was to be transplanted to the United States, say many Americans, there is no way that they would frack here.

What can I do if I’m concerned about this?
Contact your political representatives, especially MLA’s and ministers, and let them know that this issue matters to you. Talk to your neighbours, family and friends and encourage them to look behind the cheerful headlines.

If we are concerned about fracking in Fermangh, we all need to speak out now and make sure our voices are heard. It may not be easy, but it will be a lot harder to live with the consequences if we do nothing.

To download this information as a printable pdf, please visit our flyers page.

Beginner’s guide to fracking: 4 fracking and tourism

Fermanagh welcomes you – Naturally?

The most recent DETI figures indicate that the tourism sector in Co. Fermanagh generates over £36 million per annum

DETI Draft Tourism Strategy for NI to 2020
“There is also a real recognition that what makes NI special is the quality of the experience and any development must be sensitive to this.”

tourism2

Why do visitors come to Fermanagh?
– Restful and relaxing holiday – peace and tranquility
– Quality of the scenery – unspoilt landscape
– Natrual Heritage – lakes, Cuilcagh Mountain Park, Marble Arch Caves, Global Geopark (54,092 visitors 2011)
– Cultural Heritage: musicians, artists, photographers, writers
– Built Heritage – National Trust properties (92,441 visitors 2011)
– Fishing and boating
– Outdoor pursuits: hill/trailing, watersports, caving
– Good quality food and restaurants

tourism3

Opposition to fracking has been expresses by both Fermanagh District Council and Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism

What impact will fracking have on tourism in Fermanagh?
– Frack pads will be located approximately 1 mile apart changing our rural landscape forever
– Our roads will be congested with heavy trucks and machinery
– Fish stocks may be contaminated
– There is a risk of earth tremors
– Our rural landscape will become an industrailised zone
– There is a risk to natural heritage
– The air will be heavy with dust and smog
– The Erne waterways are at risk of pollution
– Noise and light pollution are inevitable
– There will be public health concerns
– We will lose our clean and green image

tourism4

What will happen if fewer visitors come to Fermanagh?
– Loss of revenue from tourism
– Loss of jobs in tourism
– Loss of income for local providers including hotels, B+B’s, hostels, resteraunts, cruise hire and supplies, shops, fishing tackle stores, arts/crafts stores, outdoor pursuit centers, golf courses, the Marble Arch Caves and National Trust properties.

tourism1

DETI Draft Toursim strategy for NI to 2020
Northern Ireland needs to “Value tourism, value the tourist, value what the tourist values.”

To download this information as a printable pdf, visit our flyers page.

‘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.