COUNCILLORS IN CLARE have agreed in principle a total ban on ‘fracking’ to extract shale gas from underground rock formations in the region.
The council voted to send an official letter to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte calling for an outright national ban on fracking.
There was also an agreement to amend the Clare development plan, a legally binding document, to forbid the controversial practice. This will now go forward for public consultation.
Green Party councillor Brian Meaney, who put forward the motion to amend the development plan, told TheJournal.ie that the change was “the most powerful method available to us, to put into that legal contract a stipulation that we don’t want to see any fracking.”
He said writing to the Minister was “a declaration of intent, but has no legal standing,” adding: “You may as well be seeking to abolish Christmas.”
Fracking is a method of pumping water and a chemical mixture underground at extremely high pressure, to break up – ‘fracture’ – rock formations and allow pockets of naturally occurring shale gas to escape.
Environmental activists have raised concerns about the eventual disposal of the fracking fluid, and possible contamination of water supplies.
Two companies have been licensed to carry out initial studies of the possible viability of fracking in parts of Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo; while Enegi Oil is planning technical studies in the Clare Basin. Cllr Meanery said this area covered “most of west Clare”.
Cllr Meaney said there was a serious “lack of regulation” of fracking at the national and European levels. He said it had the potential to “cause huge environmental problems, in a country where our main export is food.”