12/08/2014

Environment Minister Rejects Fracking Application

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has rejected an application by Australian mining company Tamboran to drill into Cleggan Quarry at Belcoo in County Fermanagh, as part of an exploration into the potential for fracking at the site.

The Department of the Environment received notification from Tamboran of their intention to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry on 21 July 2014.

Minister Durkan stated: "I have given very careful consideration to Tamboran’s proposal to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry near Belcoo and whether this is permitted development under current legislation. I have concluded that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply. In making this assessment I have been mindful of my Department’s responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times and that full consideration is give to any likely significant environmental impacts of such a proposal."

Fracking is a controversial method of extracting natural gas by injecting fluid into the ground at high pressure.

"I have concerns that this is an existing quarry where unauthorised extraction has taken place," Minister Durkan continued. "I believe there is insufficient information to establish what environmental impacts may have already arisen as a result of these unauthorised activities. Therefore, it is not possible to assess the environmental impact of the drilling cumulatively with other unknown environmental impacts of unregulated activity.

"In arriving at this decision I believe I must proceed on the basis of a precautionary principle. This principle establishes that a risk exists if it cannot be excluded on the basis of objective information and in the case of doubt as to the absence of significant effects then a full Environmental Assessment should be carried out."

Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said: "The decision to deny Tamboran to begin deep bore test drilling in Belcoo Fermanagh is the correct decision giving the clear opposition to 'fracking' in the area.

"There has been universal support in opposition to fracking in County Fermanagh since Tamboran applied to begin test drilling. Sinn Féin has fully supported those involved in campaigning against fracking across Ireland. We congratulate all those in Belcoo who stood firm against this project."

(IT/MH)

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