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Fracking in the Lough Allen & Clare Basins

category national | environment | opinion/analysis author Thursday June 16, 2011 17:19author by éirígí Sligeach - éirígíauthor email eirigisligeach at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

'Fracking' is a term that not everyone may be aware of. It is used to describe a method of shale gas extraction known as Hydraulic Fracturing. Unfortunately it is a term we are very likely to hear a lot more about in the coming months and years.

onshore_licensing_2010_a3_nwcarb.png

'Fracking' in the Lough Allen & Clare Basins
'Fracking' is a term that not everyone may be aware of. It is used to describe a method of shale gas extraction known as Hydraulic Fracturing. Unfortunately it is a term we are very likely to hear a lot more about in the coming months and years.

The dangers that this procedure poses to the environment, to water quality and to human safety is well documented worldwide. France has recently banned the use of fracking as have a number of regions in the United States. In Lancashire in England, fracking has been halted in recent weeks following a series of earthquakes that occurred and are believed to be linked to the recent exploration activity using this method in that region.

In the dying days of the Fianna Fáil led administration back in February of this year, one of their final acts was to award licences to a number of companies to explore for commercial gas in the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (more commonly known as the Lough Allen basin) and the Clare basin. The Lough Allen Basin is a huge area that covers parts of counties Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo and Tyrone. It covers an area of 8000 square kilometres in total. The Clare basin encompasses parts of Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

Awarding the licences the then Minister of Natural Resources Conor Lenihan awarded licences to two companies to begin exploration in the Lough Allen basin – Australian company Tamboran Resources and the Irish Lough Allen Natural Gas Company. Enegi Oil Plc was awarded the licence to begin exploration in the Clare Basin.

Last April when Lenihan first invited applications for licences to explore for natural gas in these areas, éirígí warned of the potential dangers that lay in store if this exploration and drilling was allowed proceed without meaningful consultation and the consent of communities effected.

Responding to Lenihan at the time (click here to read article) éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey said that “such exploration and extraction has the potential for grave environmental damage and danger to human health and safety. We have seen in north Mayo the conflict that can arise when such developments, with the potential risks involved, are imposed on local communities. Once again in these instances, there has been no proper in-depth consultation with local communities who may be effected by this prospecting and possible extraction of gas.”

He added: “If our natural resources are to be exploited, then it needs to be done in consultation with local communities, in a manner that protects the environment and protects peoples health and safety. To date, the record of the political establishment and of the exploration companies, as exemplified in the ongoing dispute over Shell's planned pipeline in north Mayo, on environmental and safety issues does not breed confidence.”

Claims by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who now say that fracking would not be allowed in the Lough Allen basin without a public consultation phase and an environmental impact assessment should be treated with contempt.

Indeed, both companies involved in the Lough Allen basin exploration have already confirmed that fracking is their intended method to extract gas from this region. So much for consultation!

One need only look at the example of Shell's pipeline in north Mayo to see how the department deliberately ignored the dangers to human safety and the environment, ignored deliberate breaches of the law and environmental regulations by Shell and never held any meaningful consultation with the local community.

Instead, they ignored their legitimate concerns, tried to demonise and criminalise them and then sent the Gardai in to intimidate and beat them into submission when they realised they could not be duped or bought off.

The whole Corrib gas saga is proof of how environmental regulation in this state does not work and cannot be relied upon to protect citizens from large oil and gas companies whose only concern is profit.

As in the Corrib case, any gas extracted in the Lough Allen or Clare basins will be of no benefit to the public, the rightful owners of this natural gas. Once again the shareholders of private companies will benefit from this at our expense.

As the start of exploration in the region is imminent éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that the whole process needs to be stopped immediately.

He said: “There has been no consultation with the local communities effected and no consent given by them to this project. This whole process needs to be stopped immediately and the use of fracking banned before any damage can be done.”

“Genuine and in depth consultation must be held with the people in these regions. If the gas can be extracted safely without any threat to the environment and public health, then and only then, it should be extracted to benefit the people of the region and the island as a whole, not to boost profits for private companies.”

Casey added: “All our natural resources must be nationalised and extracted safely where possible. The vast wealth that could be generated would go a long way towards creating well resourced and efficient public services in areas such as Health and Education. It would provide long term funding to create sustainable long term employment and help to eradicate the scourge of fuel poverty and poverty in general.”

“If Fine Gael and Labour think that people will roll over and just accept the current situation they are sadly mistaken. If they insist on continuing this process they will meet fierce resistance, just as Shell and the government have faced for the past ten years in north Mayo.”

In recent weeks Cinema North West have been holding public showings of the award winning US documentary 'Gasland' which exposed the dangers of the fracking process throughout the US. Their next screening takes place next Thursday night (June 23) at 8PM in their mobile cinema beside the Coach House Hotel in Ballymote, Co Sligo. (Click here for more details)

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 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Its our Gas     CJ    Thu Jun 16, 2011 19:20 
   Must be stopped     war29    Mon Jun 27, 2011 14:57 
   end of the world as we know it     keeper    Tue Jun 28, 2011 08:41 
   the documentary     shell shocked    Tue Aug 16, 2011 15:18 
   We need the cash     S. H. O'Toole    Wed Aug 24, 2011 14:50 
   Fracking may have trigger the 5.9 quake in Eastern US     T    Wed Aug 24, 2011 22:05 
   ESB on the make again     lovely leitrim    Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:08 
   Earthquakes and civil dialogue     S. H. O'Toole    Thu Aug 25, 2011 17:08 
   Re: Earthquakes and civil dialogue     T    Thu Aug 25, 2011 17:25 
 10   liars and corporate crooks with a smooth pr machine. don't trust them for a second     Serf    Fri Aug 26, 2011 05:08 
 11   prime time     right on    Fri Aug 26, 2011 14:14 
 12   Public Meeting     carrick gas    Mon Aug 29, 2011 00:40 
 13   more public meetings     double decker    Sun Sep 04, 2011 20:24 
 14   Some of the Australian worries relating to ‘‘hydraulic fracturing’’...     W. Finnerty    Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:03 
 15   I SPEAK FOR THE WHOLE COUNTRY     IRELAND    Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:36 
 16   restoration of the environment impossible     aa    Wed Feb 01, 2012 14:02 
 17   Smart Mining can be Clean.     Non Green.    Wed Feb 01, 2012 14:33 
 18   Who is the we?     Andrew    Wed Feb 01, 2012 15:56 
 19   This time...No Looters.     Non Green    Wed Feb 01, 2012 16:15 
 20   Fracking and CO-2 surge     T    Wed Feb 01, 2012 23:07 
 21   something fishy about the sudden moves to exploit previously known about finds     lefty    Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:49 
 22   American-German Solar Grand Plan.     Non Green.    Thu Feb 02, 2012 16:08 
 23   I do believe, Non..     opus diablos    Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:18 
 24   Do you     Unemployed    Sat Feb 04, 2012 15:00 
 25   well, it is written..     opus diablos    Sat Feb 04, 2012 15:20 
 26   Radio Netherlands Worldwide on fracking Canada     Caoimhin    Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:36 
 27   Director     ian hester    Tue Feb 07, 2012 14:04 


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