Fracking ban Bill moves on to next stage

Moves to ban fracking in Ireland has passed the first stage following a broadly supported Bill put before the Dáil yesterday.

The Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill, proposed by Sligo-Leitrim West Cavan TD Tony McLoughlin, was voted on yesterday and now goes on the Select Committee.

It proposes the prohibition of hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - to get shale oil and gas. In the Dáil yesterday TDs expressed concerns that the method is dangerous as it relies on high-pressure water to fracture rocks which contain deposits.

Deputy McLoughlin said that the Bill was drafted with the aid of a number of local and national organisations and aims to prohibit the extraction and exploration of onshore petroleum.

The legislation, if enacted will make it illegal to look for and to extract oil and gas using techniques commonly referred to as fracking.

Applications for options on licences covering counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon and Sligo had previously been sought by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in 2009.

Deputy Marc MacSharry (FF) also spoke on the proposed Bill. He said that he had concerns about the EPA investigation. Deputy MacSharry claimed that the EPA using CDM Smith as advisers was “a little like getting the fox to advise on the security of the henhouse”.

The Sligo Letrim West Cavan TD said: “We do not know enough about fracking. In 300 years time there might be a safe extracting method, but for now there is far too much doubt. There is far too much evidence that clearly shows us that there are health and environmental concerns.”

The Bill is now referred to the Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment pursuant to Dáil Standing Orders.

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