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A pair of workers working on a fracking site in America (file photo) AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Concerns raised over use of fracking for 'multi-billion euro' gas reserve

A company has said that the gas in north-west Ireland could lead to hundreds of jobs – but environmentalists have urged caution over the controversial technique.

A NUMBER OF concerns have been raised over the possible use of ‘fracking’ to extract what is believed to be a major gas reserve in north-west Ireland.

A company with a licence for the area said today that the gas under Fermanagh and Leitrim could lead to hundreds of jobs, a multi-billion investment, and a supply of gas for decades.

However campaigners and environmentalists have urged caution over the controversial technique.

“The use of fracking has been outlawed in France and Bulgaria,” said Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy. “The practice, if introduced into Ireland, could well have environmental and health implications for people in the vicinity of the fracking activity”.

The practice is not likely to benefit the people of the area because, just like the gas, the money too will flow out of Ireland.

Donegal, Sligo, Clare, Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils have already moved to ban fracking in their areas.

The TD for Sligo-North Leitrim added that fracking would cause more harm to the area than benefits.

The Green Party has urged Minister Pat Rabbitte to be cautious about assessing the economic and environmental effects of the shale gas development.

“In addition to economic considerations, it is also clear that hydraulic fracking has the potential to be extremely divisive in the localities where extraction may occur, which will have a far more damaging social impact than any short term benefit that may accrue from the construction of exploration wells,” said Garreth McDaid, Green Party spokesperson for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources.

“These areas, which have traditionally suffered from population decline, will suffer further in terms of their desirability for inward migration, leaving existing residents with limited prospects of employment once the fracking roadshow has moved on”.

What is fracking?

Fracking is a way of extracting natural gas reserves from pockets in underground rock. Water and chemicals are pumped underground at high pressures to fracture rocks and allow the pockets of natural gas to escape.

The oil industry has used fracking for decades but it is only in recent years that the technology has advanced to make it possible to use as a technique for extracting gas reserves.

Senator says we should allow fracking – to create jobs

Donegal and Sligo become latest local authorities to ban fracking

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