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It seems that there are only three possible arguments in favour of shale gas extraction here and that they have all been comprehensively discredited.
(1) Jobs - likely to be few, unskilled and insecure.
(2) Energy security - no guarantee that gas will be used here, no gas infrastructure for west of NI and no help whatsoever re urgent issue of climate change.
(3) Revenue - experience tells us that large profits, esp when made by foreign companies do not equate to large streams of tax revenue.
The arguments against are considerable and wide-ranging, including
Northern Ireland is perfectly placed to develop a high-tech renewable energy industry, using our engineering skills and ideal natural resources to provide genuine energy security, highly skilled jobs and valuable exports while reducing our carbon emissions and making the world a safer.
Join the Green Party in Northern Ireland today by clicking here and help us fight Fracking
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To read or download the recently published Chartered Institute of Environmental Health's policy briefing on Fracking, click here
Earlier this year, Australian-based Tamboran Resources was granted a license to explore the potential of hydraulic fracturing for gas in South West Fermanagh, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon.
The extraction technique, also known as Fracking, is relatively new and is highly controversial, as its impact on the environment and public health is not yet fully understood.
A recent independent geological report has found that it is ‘highly probable’ fracking, triggered two minor earthquakes on the Lancashire coast earlier this year.
Senior Climate Campaigner from Friends of the Earth, Tony Bosworth said: "This report shows fracking for shale gas caused earth tremors in Lancashire - experience in the US shows it could also pollute air and water supplies. Extracting shale gas would suck vital funding away from clean and safe energy alternatives that could create thousands more UK jobs. An early seismic detection system won't be enough to make local people feel safe - there should be no more fracking in the UK until the health and environmental impacts are fully understood."
How does hydraulic fracturing work?
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling.
Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.
Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.
In the US there has been substantial Fracking taking place and this has led to environmental and public health disasters.
There is growing concern amongst local communities as plans are now in place to allow fracking over a large area of Northern Ireland.
Licences have been issued for Central Larne-Lough Neagh Basin, Lough Allen Basin- including Fermanagh, Rathlin Basin and Rathlin Island.
On December 6, 2011 Green Party in Northern Ireland leader Steven Agnew MLA brought forward a motion to the Assembly calling for a moratorium on Fracking in Northern Ireland.
The motion was passed but it must now go to the Executive for a final decision.
We urge those concerned about Fracking in Northern Ireland to contact their local MLA and Minister and express those concerns by letter or email.
We also urge to write to your local paper to highlight this issue.
* The Green Party in Northern Ireland cannot be responsible for the content of external links
July 1, 2012
GREEN MLA SAYS THE ONLY SAFE FRACKING IS NO FRACKING!
Responding to claims that Fracking is safe in the joint report released on Friday by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, Green MLA Steven Agnew said: “In an ideal world, such a statement might be true – however, we live in a far from ideal world where human error is inevitable.”
“Tamboran, the Australian drilling company which is planning to Frack for gas in Northern Ireland, presented to me yesterday at the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee at Stormont and admitted that while they would try for a no fail rate in their operations, they could not guarantee it.
“Such realities render this latest report meaningless.
“Its just positive and biased PR for the drilling companies and those with vested interests - the very people currently quietly advising the government on whether Fracking is safe.
“We are putting the foxes in charge of the hen house as there is a total lack of independence at governmental level where important safety legislative decisions are made.
“Even best practice, which is supposed to stop incidents of contamination and earthquakes, cannot legislate for human error and therefore Fracking is simply not safe.
“The report’s author admits himself that tighter regulation is needed but how do you regulate against accidents and human error?
“Given that in Northern Ireland our record on environmental protection is not exactly exemplary and we don’t even have an Independent Environmental Protection Agency, I fail to see how we can be protected when things do, as they inevitably will, go horribly wrong.
“We have an inexperienced local workforce without the skills or knowledge in the drilling industry, we have speculator and multi-national fuel companies driven by the need for profit managing these proposed projects and we have lax environmental safeguards. I believe this is a recipe for disaster.
“You have to ask the question why, if Fracking is as safe and harmless as the industry would have us believe, why is it being banned in places like France?
“The only real safety measure where Fracking is concerned is to not let it take place at all. Its very simple - no drill - no spill”
Issued on June 29, 2012
GREEN MLA SAYS HE STILL HAS NO CONFIDENCE IN CLAIMS THAT FRACKING IS GOOD FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
Following yesterday’s presentation to the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee by Tamboran, the Australian-drilling company proposing to frack for gas in Fermanagh, Green MLA Steven Agnew says he still remains totally opposed to the plans.
“The bottom line remains the same, this company wants to exploit Northern Ireland’s natural resources for profit,” Mr Agnew said.
“The only people set to really benefit from these plans will be Tamboran.
“No amount of slick PR or industry assurances about Fracking safety is going to convince me that the proposed plans to install 1440 frack wells in Fermanagh will not be detrimental to the area and the whole of Northern Ireland.
“By the company’s own admission, local communities are being asked to ‘take the hit’ so they can proceed with this environmental disaster purely to reap excessive profits.
“I don’t believe any amount of so-called ‘compensation’ will convince local people to stand back and allow our beautiful environment to be decimated in this fashion.
“Once such a resource is lost, its gone forever.
“The promise of local job creation by Tamboran in today’s economic climate is cynical and I don’t believe they will deliver all that they are promising.
“Fracking also puts in jeopardy two of our biggest revenue-driving sectors of tourism and agribusiness.
“Not to mention the disruptive and negative impact it will have on people leaving close to well pads who will see their health put at risk and their house prices devalued.
“Should we not be trying to protect our most valuable assets rather then selling them off for perceived short-term gain?
“If the Executive gives Fracking the go-ahead against the will of the Assembly which voted for a moratorium last year, then it will be destroying the lives of thousands of people and leaving a toxic legacy for generations to come.”
June 15, 2012
GREEN MLA CRITICISES FOSTER FOR TRYING TO SHUT DOWN OPEN DEBATE ON FRACKING
Green Party MLA Steven Agnew has hit out at DETI MInister Arlene Foster's letter of complaint to the Co-Op after it sponsored a showing of the documentary Gasland followed by a panel debate on Fracking in Belfast recently.
It has emerged that the Minister wrote a critical letter of complaint accusing the Co-Op of presenting a one-side argument against the controversial process to extract shale gas which is currently being explored in Northern Ireland after her Department issued exploration licences for both Fermanagh and the Rathlin Basin.
"It would seem that Minister Foster does not want any open debate around the topic of Fracking," Mr Agnew said.
"She was invited by the Co-Op to participate in the discussion following the showing of the documentary Gasland but declined to do so, so she actaully turned down the opportunity to present her thoughts on this issue.
"I think that means she is in no position to complain when opinions contrary to her own are being expressed.
"Gasland is not, nor ever claimed to be, the start or end of the topic- it is simply a human story of communities living close to Fracking sites in the States and it is a good place to open the debate.
"This process could potentially impact on everyone in Northern Ireland therefore in the interests of democracy, open debate is needed so that everyone can be appraised of the facts and the potential risks involved.
"For a Minister to contact a private company, which it is also worth noting is a major employer in Northern Ireland, to express her displeasure that it created a space for democratic debate is very worrying as this could easily be interpretated by some as Ministerial bullying.
"When anyone challenges the Minister in the Assembly on this issue she has simply attacked them and to me this indicates the fragility of Minister's position that she cannot engage in reasoned open debate on Fracking in Northern Ireland.
"I can say that my and my Party's opposition to Fracking is based not on the documentary Gasland, but on the solid scientific evidence which has proven it to be a risk to health, environment and the communities in which it is located.
"I think the fact it is being banned in other countries across Europe and even some States in the US speaks volumes."
April 17, 2012
GREEN MLA HIGHLY CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT REPORT WHICH SUPPORTS FRACKING
North Down Green MLA Steven Agnew today strongly criticised the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s report on Fracking.
“This report only investigated the potential for Fracking to cause earthquakes without looking at the bigger picture and the even more detrimental effects of the process,” Mr Agnew said.
“This report has been unfortunately misinterpreted to suggest that Fracking is a safe process – it is not.
“As a member of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee I know that we have been focussed on the huge benefits that both the agriculture and tourism sectors bring to our local economy and believe that we should be protecting what we have – not gambling with an unsafe process with the strong potential for wide scale contamination and destruction.
“Fracking will bring only very minimal benefits to Northern Ireland.
“The investment, benefits and jobs potential attributed to the industry have all been overstated.
“In a time of economic crisis the promise of employment is being dangled like a worm on a hook to people in desperation.
“However, such a high-tech industry actually requires minimal manpower and the expertise required will be imported in by the companies involves as we simply don’t have people trained and skilled to take on these roles so it’s clearly an empty promise.
“While this report suggests that measures could be taken to mitigate the risks of earthquakes, the department never said that Fracking is ‘safe’.”
“This information gives a false sense of security around the process of fracking, when really earthquakes are the least problem associated with this form of gas extraction.
“The report conveniently ignores the threat of water contamination, serious air pollution, the risk to public and animal health (agricultural and wildlife), the destruction of environment and communities through industrialisation of our countryside, the dredging up of contaminated radioactive waste, the impact on our future carbon emissions targets and the threat to our tourism and farming sectors associated with Fracking.
“The report clearly shows that Fracking has caused minor earthquakes in Lancashire but suggests that ‘robust’ safety measures can be put in place to ‘minimise future seismic risk’.
“This gives me no confidence in this process and moreover it is very disingenuous for the Government to suggest that Fracking could be made safe because there may be a possibility to reduce the risk of earthquakes.
“Fracking is a dirty process that produces a dirty fuel and we should be concentrating and investing in developing a future focussed on clean, safe and home-grown renewable energy instead of risking everything we have for the short term gains of the international gas industry.
“The benefits of fracking to both our economy and our community will be minimal, while the huge potential costs will be borne by us all and for me and many people like me it is just not worth the risk.
“This report invites public comment on its recommendations and I hope the people of Northern Ireland will make their voices heard so that our land is not exploited and blighted for the profit of multinational energy companies.”
Issued on February 7, 2012
GREEN PARTY SAYS NI MINISTER PLAYING ‘RUSSIAN ROULETTE’ WITH PUBLIC HEALTH BY NOT IMPOSING MORITORIUM ON FRACKING
The Green Party in Northern Ireland has highlighted a recent letter from a New York-based organisation called Physician, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster calling for her to introduce a moratorium on Fracking in Northern Ireland at least until more research into effects on public health is carried out.
PSE Board Member Dr Andrew Law recently contacted the Enterprise Minister outlining his concerns about the effects of Fracking on public health as ‘more and more health complaints surface in areas where drilling has been underway.’
Green Party Leader Steven Agnew MLA said: “The letter certainly makes for very worrying reading especially since it comes from an independent source.
“Dr Law states that without further research, the current policy on Fracking should be both ‘precautionary and preventative’ or we are putting our citizens in the unacceptable role of being an ‘uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale’.
“The health risks for Northern Ireland are too high and the evidence continues to mount that fracking is having a negative impact on the health of communities where it is currently taking place.
“Despite the fact that Tamboran claim that they won’t use chemicals, Fracking is still linked to causing cancer as radioactive and other volatile compounds such as arsenic, benzene, uranium and radon are released during the drilling process.
“And cancer is only one health problem associated with Fracking but there are many others.
“With contamination and pollution threats to both the air and water, which could have serious negative impacts on community health – especially in Fermanagh, the Minister now needs to support the will of the Assembly which voted for a moratorium on Fracking in December and halt this project until further robust scientific data is available.
“Science should come before policy and science of this type takes time so that is why it is essential that Arlene Foster now imposes a moratorium on Fracking until further research is carried out or risk playing Russian Roulette with the health of the Northern Ireland public in the interests of private profit.”
Issued on January 31, 2012
GREEN PARTY IN NORTHERN IRELAND HIGHLY CRITICAL OF FRACKING COMPANY’S LATEST CLAIMS
The Green Party in Northern Ireland today challenged Australian mining company Tamboran’s new claims that its plans for Fracking in County Fermanagh will be beneficial for Northern Ireland.
Green Party Leader Steven Agnew MLA said: “Tamboran claims it will create hundreds of jobs in Northern Ireland through Fracking.
“It is hard to understand these new figures when only very recently Tamboran said it would create 800 jobs across the whole of Ireland – now they are saying 600 jobs in Northern Ireland alone.
“If they can’t even get their figures straight at this stage, can we really trust them to bore hundreds of wells into our land?
“The process of Fracking puts at risk both our tourism and farming industries - two key sectors of the Northern Ireland economy.
“So while Tamboran are making bold claims about job creation – the more important question is how many jobs will be lost if Fracking goes ahead?
“Currently, one in five jobs in Fermanagh is dependent on the environment and hundreds of gas wells will not only have a destructive visual impact on a unique landscape but will also put our water supplies and community health at risk due to the threat of contamination of the air and water table.
“The Green Party of course supports job creation but not if it is going to cost jobs in other sectors and put our health, environment and key indigenous industries at risk.
“More jobs, which will be sustainable for longer, could be created through investment in the renewable energy sector by harnessing clean, green energy sources such wind, wave and tidal.
“Tamboran seems to be ignoring the will of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Fermanagh District Council both of which recently voted against proposals for Fracking in County Fermanagh.
“It is arrogant in the extreme of Tamboran to think that it can ride roughshod over not only the political process in Northern Ireland but also the will of many of the people in Fermanagh.
“We have been duped before by the promises of outside companies to bring jobs and billions of pounds into our economy.
“While we want Northern Ireland to be open for business, we don’t want it to be wide open to the exploitation of multinational companies.
“We need policies that our good for the economy, good for people and good for the environment.”
Issued on December 6, 2011
GREEN MLA WELCOMES MOTION CALLING FOR MORATORIUM ON FRACKING
North Down Green MLA Steven Agnew has expressed his delight after his motion to introduce a moratorium on ‘hydraulic fracturing’ was passed in the Assembly today.
“I am pleased that the Assembly took this position on Fracking for gas in Northern Ireland which remains a controversial issue.
“It sends a clear message to the Executive that we need to put the brakes on Fracking in areas like Fermanagh until more research into its safety is carried out,” Mr Agnew said.
“A lot of people have put a lot of hard work into the campaign against Fracking and I want to pay credit to all those people who travelled to Stormont today from Fermanagh and beyond to highlight this issue.
“I particularly want to pay credit to Fermanagh-native Dawn Bourke who started the online-petition and has helped co-ordinate the campaign from her home in the States where she has seen first-hand the damage caused by Fracking.
“Ultimately, the decision on whether Fracking will now take place in Northern Ireland now lies in the hands of the Executive.
“We are calling on Minister Foster to listen to the will of the Assembly and introduce a moratorium on Fracking in Northern Ireland.
“But it is important to remember that this is only the first stage of this process and we urge the public to keep the pressure on their local politicians to make sure the moratorium is applied.
“This issue is too important to play party politics with and I am pleased The Green Party was able to act as hub to bring other parties together to work for the good of the people in Northern Ireland on such an important issue.”
Issued on November 7, 2011
Green MLA Says 'Frack Off' Foster
Following today’s exchange in the Assembly between the Green Party’s Steven Agnew and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster regarding the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on tourism, the North Down MLA has expressed his disappointment at the lack of detail in the Minister’s response.
Mr Agnew said: “I was very disappointed in the Minister’s response to my question on the potential impact of fracking on tourism in Fermanagh.
“Rather than directly answering my question, the Minister resorted to grandstanding and mocking Green Party policies on energy claiming that we want to ‘sit in the dark with a blanket over our heads’.
“It’s quite the contrary and ironic coming from Minister Foster since it would seem that her department are the ones with a ‘head in the sand’ approach to securing fuel security and cheaper energy prices in Northern Ireland.
“This clearly demonstrates that the Minister is not familiar with the Green Party’s progressive approach to addressing Northern Ireland’s energy requirements through the Green New Deal which, if properly invested in, would reduce fuel poverty and create new jobs.
“We also believe in developing and investing in our local renewable energy sector both for our own use and ultimately for export as currently Northern Ireland imports 98 per cent of its energy requirements – that is £2 billion a year literally going up in smoke.
“The rest of the world has recognised that fossil fuels are a finite resource and as stocks diminish prices will continue to spiral upwards. Minister foster need to accept that fossil fuels are for dinosaurs!
“We need to invest in viable alternatives now or we will find ourselves trapped by our dependency on fossil fuels and that is a mistake we will pay heavily for in the future.
“Minister Foster’s response to my question on the impact of fracking on tourism in Fermanagh also shows that she is either unaware or does not care about the legitimate concerns of her own constituents regarding this environmentally damaging practice which has been proved to have caused earthquakes in Blackpool recently.
“Fermanagh is rich in natural resources and much of its economic infrastructure is based on tourism. I am therefore surprised that Minister Foster is so willing to play fast and loose with those resources by backing the practice of fracking in an attempt to extract gas.
“Granting fracking licences to multi-national companies so they can extract gas by pumping chemicals into our water table in Northern Ireland will bring little reward to our economy as the jobs created will be limited. It seems a very high price to pay as it risks our local tourism industry which is already a lucrative revenue stream.
“There is also growing disquiet from residents in Fermanagh who don’t want to see fracking taking place in their area.
“The Minister would do well to listen to legitimate concerns regarding fracking and provide the appropriate detailed and scientific response rather than trying to deflect attention away from what is proving to be a very contentious issue.”