Fracking, the method of extracting unavailable natural gas by the pumping of compressed water, sand and chemicals into fissures or cracks in shale rock, has been banned in at least 12 major European countries, including the Republic, and also in much of the USA. Northern Ireland must be a fracking-free zone.
The Australian company Tamboran Resources (UK) Limited was granted a licence by Arlene Foster's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to explore the extent of any gas deposits outside Belcoo. Will the company be fracking? No fracking will take place for now, they say: but this quest is simply the thin end of the wedge. It is the first step in 'mission creep': if they find supplies of natural gas in commercially viable quantities, the next step will be fracking. Arlene Foster said recently: "I have always taken the approach that we should at least find out what is down there ... "
Following the Northern Ireland Assembly's vote on December 7, 2011, for a moratorium, or postponement, on fracking or related activity pending an environmental assessment, it was an irresponsible statement for a minister.
We've not yet been told the results of any "environmental assessment"; but we know about the destruction of landscapes, water contamination, and soil and air pollution, through fracking. Tamboran says that "in the longer term, if the industry develops, this has the potential to increase tourism and benefit the hospitality sector". Nonsense! Fermanagh's scenic beauty must not be put at risk through greed nor our constantly renewable underground water supplies be put at serious risk of contamination, by fracking.
Neil C Oliver, LL B