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Council set to reconsider controversial energy extraction stance

The introduction of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has been criticised for its potential environmental damage.

Image: fracking via shutterstock

A MEETING OF Leitrim County Council today will discuss the Council’s policy on the controversial energy extraction process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Leitrim is currently at the centre of a national debate on the fracking. This is due to shale rock being located in the county and its proximity to Northern Ireland where licences for the practice could potentially be granted.

The meeting today will look at wording in the the County Development Plan. In January a motion was passed by the Council to ban fracking.

Change in wording 

Issues have arisen over the viability of the wording in the County Development Plan. It was thought that perhaps some of the wording in the document was “inappropriate” in relation to its standing with Government policy.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Fianna Fáil Councillor Sinead Guckian explained that, while some anti-fracking groups are annoyed at the change of wording, there has been pressure from others that the County Development Plan take an even stronger line on the issue.

We are trying to put in wording that is legal in terms of what we can do and that doesn’t contradict national Government policy. There isn’t a policy for fracking so it is sort of a grey area.

“In the most part the Council in Leitrim are against fracking. We have had long debates prior to getting to this stage about the financial benefits and if shale gas is a clean gas.”

The energy being created wouldn’t be for this county, it would be exported. It wouldn’t be local people that gain in terms of jobs and it doesn’t seem to be an environmentally friendly process.

The plan is still in the draft stage and a change in the wording would mean going back to public consultation.

Opposition 

In a statement on today’s meeting, No Fracking Ireland said, “Leitrim is being targeted as the first area south of the border for this industry to start operations, therefore the results of tomorrows vote in Leitrim County Council will affect how this issue will unfold in the 11 other counties listed as having shale gas reserves.”

Research on the potential risks and benefits of the practice is currently being carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before Government policy is decided.

Process 

Fracking is the process of removing shale gas from underground by drilling down deep into the earth and then across horizontally for several hundred metres. Water, sand and other chemicals are then pumped down through through the system forcing gas and oil to escape through fissures.

Opponents of fracking claim that it would damaging environmental affects.

Read: The Man Who Would Be Ming: Meet the turf-cutter tipped to take a Dáil seat next month

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

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