Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Petrol bombs linked to fracking row

Plans for fracking exploration have proven divisive
Plans for fracking exploration have proven divisive

Two petrol bombs have been thrown at the home of a worker at a fracking exploration site in Northern Ireland.

No injuries were caused to the Co Fermanagh security guard during yesterday's attack but it followed a number of unlawful incidents and threats to staff protecting the natural gas test site, his energy company employer said.

Campaigners against plans to drill an exploratory borehole this month have held a vigil near the quarry in Belcoo in the country's far west.

A Tamboran Resources spokesman said: "This was an orchestrated and abhorrent attack on a local family in the middle of the night."

The firm has obtained a court injunction to stop demonstrators from getting close to land where rock samples are to be collected but no fracking will take place.

If the samples show commercially viable levels of shale rock gas, Tamboran will begin a process that could lead to fracking, fracturing of rock to release gas which can be used as energy.

Deposits in Northern Ireland could be worth about £8 billion, according to a report by consulting firm PwC. The reserves have been estimated as equivalent to about 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

The petrol bombing took place at the worker's home at Letterbreen, a rural area a short distance from the test drill site.

The dig is protected by metal fences and razor wire and guarded by a private security company.

Donal O'Cofaigh, a spokesman for the Belcoo Frack Free lobby group, said: "This attack is wrong and we condemn it. Such actions only undermine our goal of putting a halt to shale gas exploration.

"We ask those responsible to desist immediately. This action is not in our name."

Tamboran said it was operating within the terms of the licence it was awarded by the Northern Ireland Executive to explore for natural gas.

Its statement said: "We know this behaviour is not reflective of the local people. Tamboran fully respects the right to peaceful protest. However we cannot ignore such attacks."

The company called on all local political, community and anti-fracking representatives to unequivocally condemn the petrol bombing attack and encourage people to share information with police.

The attack on the site worker's house at Station Road, Letterbreen, happened at about 03:25am yesterday.

Police are investigating and want to speak to the driver of a dark-coloured Audi estate car that was seen in the area at the time.

Ulster Unionist Stormont Assembly member Tom Elliott said: "While many people, including myself, have concerns about the proposals to carry out fracking in Fermanagh, it does not justify terrorist-type campaigns against the process and those involved in it."

Activists have established what they called the Belcoo Community Protection Camp outside the entrance to the excavation and said they want their opposition to be peaceful.

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