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Statement from participants in the No Fracking Ireland Network on occasion of Ireland Oil and Gas 2013 Summit
Monday September 09, 2013 20:25 by one of NFI
Protest taking place on Wednesday September 11th from 11.30am at the Radisson Blu St. Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan Road Blackrock / Gathering for public awareness raising at 3.30pm at the Central Bank Plaza, Dame Street
No Fracking Ireland will protest against fracking and other forms of onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction at the Ireland Oil and Gas 2013 Summit on Wednesday September 11th. The Summit is taking place at the the Radisson Blu St. Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan Road, Blackrock. The protest will begin at approximately 11.30am and will feature a number of speakers. No Fracking Ireland will also gather on the afternoon of September 11th in Dublin City Centre (Central Bank Plaza) from 3.30pm onwards to co-ordinate a number of awareness raising activities in the city. Spokespeople will be available to talk to the press at both locations.
Facebook: NO FRACKING IRELAND
Ph: 087 xxxxxxxx / 086 xxxxxxx
Statement from participants in the No Fracking Ireland Network on occasion of Ireland Oil and Gas 2013 Summit
“We are not going to be covering fracking and shale gas at all”
Initially, we decided to protest the Ireland Oil and Gas 2013 Summit because fracking company Tamboran Resources were due to speak. Tamboran Resources are the highest profile fracking company active in Ireland. They want commercial, large scale, widespread fracking to take place in Fermanagh and Leitrim. The ‘summit’ organisers contacted us on Friday 6th September. They told us Tamboran were no longer taking part in the ‘summit’. They told us “we are not going to be covering fracking and shale gas at all”.
Tamboran on the run
We are glad Tamboran will not be taking part in such a high-profile event. We believe Tamboran and the event organisers are afraid of highly visible protests against fracking and other unconventional forms of fossil fuel extraction. This reflects industry reaction to a growing international backlash, now that the wider public are increasingly well informed about the risks these practices carry. The frackers – especially in light of the extraordinary community rebellion we now see in Balcombe, UK – are on the run. However, the frackers, and their supporters and funders in government and business, should not be allowed the peace and quiet to regroup. No Fracking Ireland will make clear to the Irish State, to the oil and gas industry, and to investors, that we are determined to keep Britain and Ireland free of unconventional and polluting forms of fossil fuel extraction. As the Lock the Gate alliance in Australia frequently says: “Our resistance is non-violent but non-negotiable.” We invite other concerned individuals and groups to join us.
A simple demand – ban fracking
On September 11th we will gather to convey the demand voiced by thousands that the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Assembly introduce an immediate ban on fracking and unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction. (1)
We will call on companies north and south that have been granted licences for fracking and unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction to relinquish their licences. There are irregularities in the licensing process, and licences for prospecting in the south of Ireland, held by Tamboran, Enegi or Lough Allen Natural Gas Co. should be revoked. Holders of these licences must also hold a Petroleum Prospecting Licence. According to a recent information from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources - Tamboran, Enegi and Lough Allen Natural Gas (LANGCO) have not been issued with Petroleum Prospecting Licences. The Licensing Options granted to these companies covers a combined area of nearly half a million acres. Yet none of these companies even meets the conditions for these Licensing Options, since they do not and did not at the time of granting of the licenses hold a Petroleum Prospecting Licence. (2)
Fracking: filthy, destructive, anti-farming, anti-tourism – and brought to you by the Irish government
Overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence from around the world supports our demands. In many cases, including Ireland, this evidence is ignored and marginalised by governments. The evidence (3) is incontestable: fracking is a dirty polluting process which relies on the wholesale industrialisation of the landscape. It is detrimental to farming, detrimental to tourism, detrimental to human and animal health and to the environment in general. It also pollutes water and utilises vast quantities of fresh water in its operations. It has also been associated with earthquakes in areas in which it has taken place. The Irish government has ‘parked’ the issue. It is awaiting the final terms of reference for a ‘comprehensive’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report. The draft terms of reference published by the EPA is still under review as part of a consultation exercise on its contents. Despite the veneer of concern for the environment in the draft terms of reference document, it does not even attempt to outline a framework for research for a thorough evaluation of the environmental and health risks presented by exploratory or industrial fracking. In fact, such concerns are completely marginalised by the document and the framework for research it sets out.
Irish government approach: frack first, ask questions later (if ever..)
Instead of concern for the environmental and health risks associated with exploratory or industrial fracking, the draft terms of reference maintain a clear and consistent focus on developing a best practice framework for fracking and its regulation. We believe, through direct and indirect contacts with those living with the unconventional gas industry, that no amount of regulation can control the environmental damage caused by unconventional gas extraction because the processes involved are fundamentally flawed. In effect, the state a facilitating the birth of an industry that will place established industries in tourism and agriculture at risk. It will place public health at risk, and unleash environmental destruction - all in pursuit of a fast buck. The EPA cannot in any case accurately gauge the impact of fracking. No health life cycle studies have been completed in countries where the technology is being used on an industrial scale and where long term studies of health and environmental effects have been undertaken these have been stymied and compromised by governments in hock to the oil and gas industry.
The No Fracking Network: Where We Stand
Rather than participate in a process intended to lay the foundations for fracking in Ireland, we will continue to give public representation to the views of the thousands who have signed petitions calling for a ban on fracking on the island of Ireland. We will also gather in solidarity with other campaign groups on this island and abroad who are also fighting to protect the environment and their communities against the oil and gas industry. In particular, we will gather in solidarity with those using various forms of non-violent civil disobedience to attempt to stop Cuadrilla Resources in their tracks in Balcombe UK, and those fighting for over 100 days to defend their communities in Poland from fracking and from known polluters Chevron Oil. (4)
Speakers at Ireland Oil and Gas Summit 2013 – Fracking Lough Neagh?
One of the key speakers on Wednesday will be Susan Morrice of Belize Natural Energy, who has an interest in gas exploration licenses around Lough Neagh, Ireland’s largest freshwater lake, which supplies 40% of Northern Ireland’s drinking water. In 2010 Morrice gave a blunt outline for the future of Northern Ireland as she saw it.
"I know there is gas in it (the north-west carboniferous basin) but the timing, the technology, the pricing and the right partners have to come together. It's an alignment. When I was there 15 or 20 years ago, people hadn't appreciated that natural gas is the clean fuel of today for electrical generation. Also the technologies to fracture and open rocks and make them flow more economically hadn't come to the fore. And, of course, Northern Ireland was steeped in its own situation. But the time will be right for this basin very soon. It needs the right partners who really want to do it - not just for the money but to really bring a platform to the economy that allows entrepreneurship, cheaper electricity etc. It is not just about gas - it is about everything associated with it." (5)
Despite Morrice’s present 'green' rhetoric - and her dubious choices in terms of advisers - this is what she really represents: frackers steeped in profits and Northern Ireland steeped in filthy water.
A ‘Summit’ for Fracking – with or without Tamboran
Make no mistake – Tamboran may have bowed out for now, but fracking is going to be a BIG part of the formal and informal discussions between the oil and gas industry, its investors, and the upper echelons of the Irish civil service and political establishment, on Wednesday 11th. It costs €1645 per person to enter these discussions. This is what our 'democracy' looks like in 2013 when it comes to our natural resources, our environment and the exploitation of both for private profit. We have written to the organisers demanding admittance for two observers from the communities under threat of fracking in Fermanagh and Leitrim. We will continue on Wednesday to demand access for observers to the 'summit'. We will also continue to call on our elected representatives north and south of the border to implement an immediate ban on activities aimed at the unconventional onshore extraction of oil and gas. We will also spend time on the streets of Dublin on Wednesday afternoon to raise public awareness on these issues.
Contempt for democracy
The risks posed by the extreme energy industry in Ireland require urgent, island-wide, informed democratic debate. These risks will not be discussed at cosy get-togethers between industry, political fixers and senior civil servants: rather, they will be ignored. The €1645 entry fee is intended to keep the public out – a scandalously anti-democratic measure, which sends out the signal that Ireland’s resources belong to the highest bidder, not its people. At this ‘summit’, neither our Government officials, nor any potential investors for that matter, will be receiving a 360 degree view of the potential impact of unconventional gas extraction (fracking) in Ireland. The whole event is about networking between government and industry, about positive spin, about investments and about economic gains.
Keeping the public at bay
This is, after all, an industry ‘summit’. Concerned community members from the north-west who asked for an opportunity to lay out community concerns on these issues to those assembled have already been refused an opportunity to do so. If Industry and Government refuse to involve the general public in such discussions, it should come as no surprise to them that visible public engagement, on this and other environmental issues, is growing. ‘Summits’ such as this one, provide networking opportunities for policy makers, investors and an industry that views matters such as fracking as 'too contentious'(6) for full public discussion.
The intention of the No Fracking Ireland Network is to force the oil and gas industry, and the government, to look outside their respective bubbles. They must be made to realise, before the eyes of the wider public, that they have not received meaningful community consent to extend fracking, and other dangerous practices of extraction, through large geographic areas of the island of Ireland.
(6) E-mail to campaigner from conference organisers.