Irish government to delay fracking – good news for all?

As reported in the Irish News (April 18th) “The Irish government will grant no new fracking licences until more is known about the controversial method of gas drilling.  The Republic’s Minister for energy and natural resources, Pat Rabbitte, yesterday pledged that future decisions on hydraulic fracturing would be based on scientific evidence. … In an address to the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, Mr Rabbitte said the government could not allow any project involving new or controversial technology to proceed unless it was sure that it would be ‘technologically and environmentally safe.'”

This is good news, so far as it goes, for the Republic of Ireland, but makes it more likely that if, as seems probable, there is a ‘test-bed’ for fracking in Ireland, Fermanagh will be that laboratory.

If you’re a potential guinea pig who would like to have a say in your future, please visit our What Can I Do? page now.

Read the full text of Pat Rabbitte’s speech here.

Government backtracks on fracking

Government ministers have now discovered what we in Fermanagh already know – that shale gas will do nothing to solve our energy needs or to reduce our fuel bills.  According to the Independent on Sunday,

The Government has rejected shale gas technology as a solution to Britain’s energy crisis, conceding it will do little to cut bills or keep the lights on.  The Independent on Sunday has learned that industry experts made clear at a meeting attended by senior ministers, including David Cameron and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, that the UK’s reserves were smaller than first thought and could be uneconomical to extract. Now senior coalition figures have agreed that shale gas has the potential to be deeply controversial without securing major benefits in lowering carbon emissions or reducing energy costs.

Joss Garman, from Greenpeace, said: “The shale gas bubble has burst. Despite all the hype, even the energy companies now acknowledge shale gas isn’t the answer to Britain’s energy needs. Ministers are having to face up to the fact that there isn’t much of it, it won’t bring down bills, and it’s damaging to our climate.”

The Prime Minister convened the Downing Street summit to hear from companies including Shell, Centrica and Schlumberger, which have been working on shale gas projects in America and exploring the potential of supplies in Ukraine and China.

The ministers were told Britain was not in a position to exploit vast amounts of its own shale gas stores. “The reserves aren’t absolutely huge compared with the likes of America, Ukraine and North Africa,” said a senior government source. “And we are relatively densely populated. It is a question of how much we can get out, and at what cost. There is a not-insignificant amount of domestic supply, but not a game-changing amount.”

Mr Davey now rejects the idea that a rush to bring shale gas online will have the biggest impact on reducing household energy bills. Speaking after the Downing Street meeting, he said industry experts were “clear that it would take time for shale gas to be exploited in the UK” and cautioned that the reserves “are not quite as large as some have been speculating”.

Read the full article here Government backtracks on fracking – Green Living – Environment – The Independent. but remember that this does not mean an end to the plans for fracking in Fermanagh and elsewhere in Northern Ireland.  Licences for gas extraction have already been granted, and unless we speak out and act now, our communities will become test beds for this speculative and damaging industry, regardless of what government policy may be.  To find out how you can help, visit our What can I do? page now.

Bulgarian government bans hydraulic fracturing

The Sofia Echo.

“Bulgaria’s Cabinet decided on January 17 to amend the licence awarded to US oil firm Chevron, explicitly banning the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology in the exploration of potential shale gas reserves in the country’s northeast.

The Cabinet awarded the exploration permit for the Novi Pazar area in June 2010, but did not specify at that time what technology the company could use. The January 17 decision now limits Chevron to drilling conventional wells only.”

 

“On January 14, several thousand people gathered at protest rallies in Bulgaria’s largest cities and towns to protest against shale gas extraction and the use of fracking. Apart from Sofia, there were protests in Plovdiv, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Shoumen, Pleven, Bourgas, Kazanluk, Dobrich, Smolyan, Rousse and Blagoevgrad, while according to Capital Daily, Bulgarians living in London and Copenhagen also held protests.

Protesters called for Parliament to put a moratorium on exploration and extraction of shale gas and for a legislative ban on fracking.

Lawmakers obliged on January 18, passing an indefinite ban on highly-pressurised hydraulic fracturing (at more than 20 atmospheres) with a vote of 166 in favour and only six against, all of them from [the] right-wing Blue Coalition.”

“But even [the] co-leader of the Blue Coalition, Martin Dimitrov, backed the moratorium, saying that he was “opposed to experiments done on Bulgaria. The time will come when the technology is safe or its risks are clarified.”

Other supporters of the ban, including former environment minister Djevdet Chakurov of the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms and former economy minister, socialist Roumen Ovcharov, said that Bulgaria was better off waiting for other countries to conclude their environmental risk assessments before allowing shale gas exploration to proceed.”

 

 

[T]he area covered by Chevron’s licence has some of Bulgaria’s most fertile land and has long been described as the country’s “bread basket”.

 

 

Ban on fracking agreed by Clare County Council

Total ban on fracking agreed by county council · TheJournal.ie.

“COUNCILLORS IN CLARE have agreed in principle a total ban on ‘fracking’ to extract shale gas from underground rock formations in the region.

The council voted to send an official letter to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte calling for an outright national ban on fracking.

There was also an agreement to amend the Clare development plan, a legally binding document, to forbid the controversial practice.This will now go forward for public consultation.Green Party councillor Brian Meaney, who put forward the motion to amend the development plan, told TheJournal.ie that the change was ‘the most powerful method available to us, to put into that legal contract a stipulation that we don’t want to see any fracking.'”

“Two companies have been licensed to carry out initial studies of the possible viability of fracking in parts of Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo; while Enegi Oil is planning technical studies in the Clare Basin. Cllr Meaney said this area covered “most of west Clare”.

Cllr Meaney said there was a serious “lack of regulation” of fracking at the national and European levels. He said it had the potential to ’cause huge environmental problems, in a country where our main export is food.'”

 

Fracking debate at Stormont

On Tuesday 6th December, the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont will be debating the following motion:

“That this Assembly believes a moratorium should be placed on onshore and offshore exploration development and production of shale gas by withdrawing licences for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), at least until the publication of a detailed environmental impact assessment into the practice; notes that hydraulic fracturing can put local water sources at risk of contamination, further notes that amongst a variety of adverse environmental impacts, the process of fracking can cause serious well blowouts, which put both workers and local communities at risk; does not consider that the production of hard to reach fossil fuels is compatible with efforts to achieve carbon reduction targets and, therefore, urges the Enterprise Minister to instead give greater support to the generation of energy from renewable sources.”

Immediately prior to the debate, the petition to ban fracking in Northern Ireland will be presented to the Assembly, so if you would like to sign it and have not yet done so, please sign by Monday 5th.

There will be a show of support by members of the public outside the Stormont buildings at 10am on Tuesday 6th – please come along if you can.  Transport from Fermanagh is being arranged – if you would like further details of this, please email us at [email protected] as soon as possible.