“No fracking for Fermanagh, no fracking for Northern Ireland, as things stand” – Durkan

13 08 2013

fracking- 14

 SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today stated that agreeing to fracking at present would be reckless and irresponsible.The Minister was responding to the David Cameron’s statement yesterday in favour of fracking.
Mark H Durkan highlighted that no decision should be taken until all facts and scientific evidence are established.He also re-assured the public in Northern Ireland that fracking could not take place in Northern Ireland without his say so.Mark H Durkan said: “At present there is no planning application for fracking in Northern Ireland. If and when any application comes in, it will be for me to decide, not David Cameron. I am not going to make any decision until all the facts and scientific evidence are established. To do otherwise would be reckless and irresponsible. Do we need to extract shale gas? Can it be done safely? Would it be done responsibly? These are the responsible questions. All facts are not in. The scientific evidence is far from being established. No fracking for Fermanagh, no fracking for Northern Ireland, as things stand.

“I am not though sitting on my hands here, simply waiting for a planning application to come in. I have asked my officials to get us to a position of best knowledge possible here. This means reviewing existing research, analysing new studies, studying case studies from other parts of the world and liaising with counterparts in other Environment Agencies in Britain and Ireland. Remember also, there is a big cross border issue here – shale gas beneath the surface will not follow the meanderings of a border above ground.

“So decisions based on fact, a process ensuring best possible knowledge is acquired, is my strategic way forward”.

Cunningham calls on Rathlin Energy to clarify their intentions

23 04 2013


Ballycastle SDLP Dónal Cunningham has called on oil and gas exploration company Rathlin Energy to clarify their position with regard to their plans for any new exploration well within the onshore Rathlin Basin.

Councillor Cunningham continued

“We are aware that following the analysis of results from the 2008 Ballinlea well, the company intends to seek permission for a new exploration well with drilling likely to take place early 2014”

“I would call on the company to make clear from their geological evidence and seismic data what their intentions for development are.”

“Bearing in mind that that the Environment Minister Alex Attwood has warned against a headlong rush in to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and that Council and the local community have both voiced their opposition to fracking – the onus must be on the company state if this forms part of their plans.”

Promised Land – Matt Damon tackles the social impact of Fracking

28 12 2012

matt damon


In his new film “Promised Land” Matt Damon tackles the social impact of the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique, or “fracking,” which has sparked environmental and political battles over its impact on drinking water, energy use, seismic activity and other impacts.

Damon plays a corporate salesman who goes to a rural U.S. town to buy or lease land on behalf of a gas company looking to drill for oil. He soon faces opposition from a slick environmentalist, played by John Krasinski.

Promised Land

University expert expresses concerns about fracking

27 12 2012


A Bath university expert has expressed concerns about the wider environmental implications of a controversial gas extraction method.

Dr David Packham, senior lecturer in materials science at the Claverton Down university, has spoken out about the impact that fracking could have if it was given the go ahead..

​He said very little was known about the wider impact on the environment.

The Government has put its full support behind fracking, while at the same time trying to reassure communities that the necessary regulations will be in place to protect the environment.

Dr Packham said: “Certainly environmental damage has occurred in the past in the vicinity of wells and drilling sites, and could occur again.

“This would be local, but in my opinion, a greater environmental threat is the acceleration of climate change which the large scale use of shale gas would produce.

“Government scientific advisers have been emphatic in issuing this warning. This to my mind is very serious indeed.

“It opens the way for climate change to approach the point of no return, leading to an environmental domino effect where in a volatile and unpredictable dynamic, things such as melting ice and the release of carbon from the planet’s surface are set to feed off each other, accelerating and reinforcing the warming effect.”

These concerns have been echoed by Alex Hart, from Frack Free Somerset, who said the public was being sold a myth about the potential benefits of fracking.

She said Prime Minister David Cameron should think again: “It is utterly depressing that the country’s leader is demonstrating such a lack of imagination and proving how short-sighted he is.

“Cameron and other fans of ‘natural gas’ are using a lower prices myth to sell a toxic product. Prices will only ever go up as wells produce rapidly falling amounts of gas.

“Shale gas and coal-bed methane supporters are also ignoring one (among many) glaringly obvious fact; all wells leak eventually.

“So, regardless of whatever regulatory mechanisms, licenses or permits that the government put in place, prevention of pollution can never be guaranteed.”

Fracking poses threat to countryside, warns National Trust (extracts from Telegraph article)

23 12 2012

fracking-national trust

The National Trust has joined the ranks of groups concerned by the Government’s support for fracking, the controversial gas-exploration technique linked to minor earthquakes in the North of England last year.
 Just days after the Coalition gave the green light for more fracking in the UK, the body widely considered a guardian of the countryside warned that the process represents “fools gold”.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation at the National Trust, said: “We have a presumption against fracking because of the threats it poses to the countryside and because at the end of the day it is a fossil fuel that will do nothing to arrest climate change.”

 “There is a very real danger that fracking is actually fools gold. It could easily distract attention away from what we really need to do: reduce consumption and pursue more renewable energy.”

In his Autumn Statement earlier this month, George Osborne outlined plans to introduce tax breaks for shale gas. He also created a new government office to oversee the industry.

However, have a range of concerns about the technique, which was blamed for minor earthquakes in Lancashire early last year. Campaigners also say the industry increases traffic to rural areas and can pollute water supplies.

The Campaign for the Protection for Rural England is also concerned by potential damage to the countryside by fracking.

Paul Miner, Senior Planning Officer, said: ‘Before commercial scale extraction happens, there must be a full and transparent planning process.

“The Government doesn’t appear to have recognised the potential for major landscape damage, or the need to properly consider this at the local level.

“If fracking is to happen, it must be with the support of local communities, who are most at risk if things go wrong, and without damaging the countryside.”

No plans for fracking yet in Scotland

15 12 2012

fracking drill

Shale gas exploration must be “done safely”

The Scottish Government has not ruled out future exploration for shale gas – but only if it can be done without harming the environment.

Permission has been given for hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – the process used to extract the gas from shale rocks, to continue in Lancashire by the Westminster Government.

Although there are no plans underway for fracking in Scotland, the Scottish Government told Holyrood unconventional gas could still be a possible source for energy.

A spokeswoman said: “Scotland has a wide range of energy resources and unconventional gas offers potential as another source of natural gas and in Scotland we need a diverse energy portfolio to aid resilience and maintain security of our supply.

“It is essential however, that exploration and production of natural gas is done safely and responsibly with due regard to the environment. New guidance has been produced by SEPA to cover their regulatory roles in relation to coal bed methane and shale gas which are types of ‘unconventional gas’.

“A robust regulatory regime provides clarity for industry, planning authorities and communities. Scottish Ministers cannot comment on individual planning applications, where Scottish Ministers have a statutory role.”

Shale gas is extracted by pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into rocks under high pressure. Previous attempts were halted after two tremors near Blackpool, but conditions have now been imposed to minimise the risk of seismic activity.

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said shale gas was a potential energy resource for the UK, but added: ” Shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It could contribute significantly to our energy security, reducing our reliance on imported gas, as we move to a low carbon economy.

“My decision is based on the evidence. It comes after detailed study of the latest scientific research available and advice from leading experts in the field.

“We are still in the very early stages of shale gas exploration in the UK and it is likely to develop slowly. It is essential that its development should not come at the expense of local communities or the environment. Fracking must be safe and the public must be confident that it is safe.

Critics of shale gas have raised concerns that it the process could lead to environmental damage and also that the focus should be on more renewable energy production rather than fossil fuels

Fracking nonsense (Morning Star Article)

13 12 2012

Blackpool fracking

A surge of protest is set to erupt across the country as shockwaves from the government decision to restart shale gas fracking push people into action.
The process had been halted 18 months ago after two earthquakes were felt at the surface near Blackpool, where energy firm Cuadrilla was carrying out tests.
Environmental activists Frack Off said local groups had already sprung up around Britain ready to fight any fracking plans and they expected protests to break out.

Fracking – shorthand for hydraulic fracturing – involves pumping water and chemicals into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

A government report earlier this year gave the green light to continue provided monitoring systems were in place to halt extraction if a quake looks likely.
today Energy Secretary Ed Davey ended the moratorium, saying safeguards would be put in place before Cuadrilla could resume – but now huge areas are threatened with potential exploitation.

Fracking is widespread in the US, where many environmental problems included contaminated water supplies have been linked to the practice.
Frack Off campaigner Lilly Morse said: “The long-expected announcement is the start of a major battle over what sort of world we will leave to our children.
“The government and industry’s promises of cheap, abundant gas are deluded.
“In the US the gas bubble has already burst, with fracking companies on the verge of bankruptcy.
“Fracking is dirty, destructive and extremely expensive, and could never deliver the quantities of gas envisaged.”
Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said: “Energy analysts agree the UK cannot replicate the American experience of fracking, and that shale gas will do little or nothing to lower bills.
“Pinning the UK’s energy hopes on an unsubstantiated, polluting fuel is a massive gamble and consumers and the climate will end up paying the price.”

The government’s decision came on the day its own climate advisers warned that continuing to rely on gas would cost families hundreds of pounds more than if there was a shift to low-carbon power such as wind.
Cuadrilla is currently the only company which has started fracking in Britain.
It claims reserves in Lancashire could supply a quarter of Britain’s demand for gas.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said it was concerned over possible damage to the countryside and that planning decisions could be taken out of the hands of local communities.