When gauging the feeling on the ground from the man on the street about hydraulic fracturing, it’s one of quiet optimism.
The mood music has been sounding good from Dublin, a public consultation on its way to inform ‘decision making’ on the process, and a promise that no fracking would be used in exploration licenses. Of course, anyone could be excused in thinking that government is finally listening to national and international concerns on the controversial issue. “Not so,” says Love Leitrim.
Central to this, Love Leitrim says that any results from research as it stands will not be comprehensive enough to guide any type of informed decision.
“The research is limited in its remit focusing on baseline environmental indices, and on seismic/earthquake risks associated to the industry. The research will also investigate ways to regulate any negative impacts associated with the industry. A glaring omission is that research as it stands will not consider the public health risk associated with the cumulative impacts of up to 9000 gas wells in the Lough Allen basin and no one with public health expertise sits on the steering group. It will not consider the damage to Agriculture or tourism or our clean manufacturing industries.
“On February 28th men with brief cases will once again be walking towards Merrion Street. This time it will be the gas and oil industry representatives who wish to pursue this controversial industry who need to have their paperwork in for the deadline. Many commentators believe that an exploration license albeit without actual test fracking could be given at this stage alongside any research. Granting of an exploration license a name in itself that often sounds harmless, opens the gates for the industries. The exploration license ties the Irish state into a contract of which is near impossible to retract.
“Who holds the power on this? The existing options license only states that the minister will be prepared to consider granting an exploration license. Currently the options license gives the government the right to refuse on behalf of its people.”
Eddie Mitchell spokesperson with Love Leitrim said, “There is an impression that the previous administration gave away the family silver. Ironically although they failed to consult with the public they actually gave very little away. They merely started the ball rolling for this industry. If our present government grants exploration licenses and the companies form a basic for commerciality through exploration then it will be they who have given away our future.”
Love Leitrim says we cannot afford to be complacent on this issue. They say it is a political decision.