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There will be no decisions made on fracking in Ireland for at least 2 years

The department of Minister of State Joe McHugh has issued a statement in response the announcement by Mark Durkan.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has issued a response to the decision by Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister Mark Durkan to block fracking in the region.

The Department says that Durkan’s decision “is a matter for the Northern Ireland authorities” and that “no licences have been granted that would allow the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration for unconventional gas” in Ireland.

It goes on to clarify:

There is also a commitment that applications proposing the use of this technology will not be evaluated until there has been time to study the findings of a major two-year EPA led research programme that is about to commence which will consider the potential impacts on the environment and human health from unconventional gas exploration.

Sinn Féin yesterday welcomed the announcement by the Northern Irish Environment Minister Mark Durkan that Australian company Tamboran had been denied permission to carry out deep bore test drilling in Belcoo, Fermanagh.

The party have also expressed strong opposition to proposed fracking in the Republic of Ireland. In a statement on the issue, Durkan said:

In making this assessment I have been mindful of my department’s responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times and that full consideration is give to any likely significant environmental impacts of such a proposal.

Tamboran’s plans to drill at Belcoo had been facing protests for a number of weeks from local protesters opposed the the proposed extraction. The Northern Irish Minister with responsibility for Energy Arlene Foster has spoken out in support of an open view towards fracking.

The DUP MLA said on the issue “I hope that people will allow an objective assessment to be made.”

It is thought that natural gas reserves underneath Leitrim and Fermanagh could be worth in the region of €50-100 billion, although nobody has been able to say this with any certainty.

Speaking about the possibility of fracking in Ireland, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said:

“I recently visited the site of the proposed deep bore test drilling in Belcoo and met with local campaigners. I did so because I am convinced that fracking would be detrimental to the local economy and natural environment. I would be particularly devastating for farming and tourism”.

In far too many instances in rural Ireland the concerns of local communities are ignored or dismissed.  The move by Minister Durkan was the right one.  Minister White must now follow suit.

Previously fracking licences were given to Tamboran Resources, The Lough Natural Gas Company and Enegi Oil in 2011 by the then Fianna Fáil Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Conor Lenihan.

Related: Frack off: Minister blocks test drilling in Fermanagh

Also: Emergency Leitrim Council meeting calls a halt to mining firm drilling in Belcoo

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