The Department of Natural Resources is still awaiting the preliminary EPA report on Fracking and is expecting the report to be published in the “coming weeks.”
Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte told the Dail that the research in the form of a desk-based study being carried out by the University of Aberdeen is expected in the next few weeks.
He said the EPA proposes to commission further, more extensive, research on hydraulic fracturing this year. However, the final specification for this research will only be prepared after the EPA, an independent statutory body, has considered the output from the study under way at the University of Aberdeen.
Under questioning, the Minister said “Although my hair is grey with the subject, I have no plans to publish either a Green or White Paper at this stage.”
Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister to explain why he will not publish a policy discussion paper on the subject.
Pat Rabbitte replied saying “I simply do not have the expert evidence available to me at this stage.” He said he has taken on the concerns of some groups and “as a result I am making further money available” to the EPA to study the subject.
Deputy Martin Ferris asked about co-operation with Northern Ireland. Minister Rabbitte said he has had discussions “with our colleagues in Northern Ireland about this because they seem to be further along the road than we are, and were about to commence fracking in Fermanagh in particular. They too now are pulling back somewhat and waiting until more information is available in this area.”
He also said he understands the decision to ban fracking in France “is not an absolute one; it is a decision to ban until more evidence is compiled.”