Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Questions raised over viability of shale gas

Fracking has proven to be a controversial issue
Fracking has proven to be a controversial issue

A new report into fracking has questioned whether shale gas will bring down UK energy bills and has claimed that the the process could lead to water shortages.

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health reviewed evidence across several issues linked with shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing.

The document also highlighted "major shortcomings" in regulatory oversight regarding local environmental and public health risks and said that shale gas exploitation could undermine efforts to tackle climate change.

Gary McFarlane, director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (NI), said a full independent environmental impact assessment must be carried out on all shale gas extraction proposals before permission to drill is given.

"In the enthusiasm to exploit new sources of energy we must assess and ensure that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the environment or on the health of people in the communities surrounding extraction sites," he said.

"Despite some positive soundings by the Northern Ireland Executive for the process, local authorities in Northern Ireland should resist allowing shale gas extraction in their areas until they are satisfied on that point.

"We believe that there is currently insufficient evidence to provide such assurance for proposals in the UK and the precautionary principle should apply."

SGR executive director and co-author of the report Dr Stuart Parkinson added: "The evidence we have gathered shows that exploiting yet another new source of fossil fuels – such as UK shale gas – is likely to further undermine efforts to tackle climate change.

"We need to focus on low carbon energy sources, especially renewables, together with concerted efforts to save energy."

Bread deal set to make Irwin’s more dough

Consumers in Abu Dhabi could soon be enjoying soda bread, potato farls and wheaten loaves thanks to a new million-pound deal with a Northern Ireland firm.

Portadown-based Irwin’s Bakery is to supply its Rankin Selection range to LuLu Group in Abu Dhabi, one of the biggest retailers in the Gulf states.

The breads, as well as Jammy Joey and Snowy Joey cakes from the Howell’s Handmade subsidiary, will be sold through eight stores initially. LuLu Group has more than 100 hypermarket and supermarket outlets throughout the middle east and in India.

Irwin’s Brendan Lappin said the deal is the result of 18 months of talks. He said: “The range will be on sale in an initial eight LuLu supermarkets within 24 hours of leaving the bakery in Portadown — a significant logistics operation involving a distributor in Liverpool. Our aim is to build the business steadily and to widen the customer base beyond the ex-pat community.”

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