Sinn Fein Leitrim TD Michael Colreavy welcomed Minister Fergus O’Dowd’s recent assurance that exploratory licences would not be issued until after the EPA report has been considered, but has called for the research to be wider and to be studied over a longer timeframe.
Speaking following the Minister’s announcement Deputy Colreavy said, “Minister O’Dowd is of the view that the EPA final report should be available by early 2015. My view – having made a detailed submission in relation to the EPA proposed Terms of Reference – is that it is unlikely the necessary research and report can be satisfactorily concluded within this timeframe. I am also of the view that a wider study and report is also necessary.”
He pointed out that the EPA Terms of Reference cover Environmental Impact but do not incorporate other serious studies. He said issues such as Public and Animal Health Impact Assessment, Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Tourism Impact Analysis and Methods for independent verification of claims by applicant companies in relation to such matters as Gas Deposit Quantities; Projected Income to the State for duration of operations; Projected (local) Employment levels associated with the industry; Costs and State resource levels involved in monitoring /enforcement and in infrastructure provision and maintenance need to be included in the study.
He also believes other issues such as legislative changes are required, Farming Land Rights; EPA accountability; Protocols and Regulations for greater openness and transparency in the issue of licences, Community Impact Analysis including an examination of the impact of Hydraulic Fracturing operations on the community of (initially) Lough Allen Basin including change from unspoilt rural to industrialised countryside; traffic management; property valuations; land and access rights; property and insurance implications; Disaster Planning needs to be assessed as part of the EPA’s report.
“Until such time as these and other issues are addressed in an open and accountable way, I cannot see how any Government or Minister could even consider the issue of Exploratory Licences to permit Hydraulic Fracturing; and I have conveyed my views on this to Minister O’Dowd. I urge the community in Lough Allen Basin and all throughout Ireland to be vigilant and to actively inform themselves in relation to this,” Deputy Colreavy concluded.