A comprehensive national strategy on the practice of fracking must be developed as a matter of urgency, according to Galway West Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte cannot continue to ignore the serious concerns about the safety and suitability of fracking in Ireland. Given that he has already granted initial assessment licenses to companies to explore the extraction of natural gas in the Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan and Clare, it is urgent that we develop a national strategy on unconventional gas extraction.
“This process must involve all interested parties and include comprehensive public consultation. The experience of fracking in other countries must be examined and a full cost-benefit analysis of fracking nationally and internationally must be carried out.
“In view of the fact that the North West fracking area extends into Northern Ireland, there is a clear need for cooperation authorities in Northern Ireland. As many of the targeted areas are designated under Natura 2000, the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General must also be consulted on the effects on Natura designations.”
Deputy Ó Cuív has said that the following issues must be examined in the development of a National Fracking Strategy:
- Environmental and pollution issues
- Dangers to public safety
- Possible physical damage to scenic landscapes as a result of drilling sites
- Archaeological and cultural effects
- The social and economic impact both nationally and locally
- The employment effects on local communities including the effect on sustainable local industries of agriculture, tourism and in particular on the water based tourism in county Leitrim
- The possible impact on food industries in Ireland from any negative associations arising from pollution.
- Affects on Infrastructure
Deputy Ó Cuív continued, “There are possible serious long-term environmental, social and economic risks associated with fracking so we must be very clear about what we are getting into. We need a clear and inclusive strategy to prevent serious problems with unconventional gas exploration in the long-term, and to ensure we get the best out of our natural resources while protecting our environment.”