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Rabbitte: No licences for fracking before EPA finishes research

The communications minister says the Environmental Protection Agency will report back before any fracking can begin.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

NO LICENCES will be awarded for the mining of gas through hydraulic fracturing – better known as ‘fracking’ – before the Environmental Protection Agency finishes its research into the area.

That’s according to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, who this evening told delegates at Labour’s national conference that an embargo on any exploration was effectively in place.

Speaking on two motions which sought to stop Ireland from proceeding with any exploration before full environmental audits, Rabbitte said: “We simply don’t know enough about the process”.

“Last October I commissioned the EPA to do a study on this issue,” Rabbitte said. “We don’t have the expertise and in fact it has taken almost three years to produce a report in the United States on this subject.

Rabbitte pointed out that any fracking projects would need approval from an Bord Pleanála, the EPA, the Commission for Energy Regulation and the minister before it could continue.

Some initial exploratory licences were granted by the previous government in February, but no exploration has yet begun.

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This evening the minister said a number of further national conferences would likely be held before enough was known about the process to make a decision on whether to allow fracking or not.

The two motions, proposed by branches in South Leitrim and North Clare, were both referred back to the party executive for their consideration.

In its early discussions the conference also passed motions calling for Labour to investigate the provision of free WiFi nationally in order to overcome the shortfall in services, and to legislate for criteria when assessing future media mergers.

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Gavan Reilly

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