A proposal to ban fracking outright in Ireland overcame its first hurdle earlier this week as a vote in favour of the ban was passed unanimously in the country’s lower house, the Dáil Éireann.
The ban was proposed by Tony McLoughlin, MP for the Sligo-Leitrim constituency, the area that would be most affected by fracking were it to go ahead in the country. McLoughlin described the vote in favour of the ban as “a major win for the environment and for Irish politics”.
When the legislation was first proposed, the government considered imposing an eight month delay on any final decision which could have meant that the actual ban would not have gone through until 2018. However, in the end, this delay was not put forward.
Three fracking licenses have already been granted in Ireland, but so far no work has gone ahead and now, with cross part support for the ban, it looks every more doubtful whether it actually will.
Environment Minister Denis Naughten said: “To be quite clear, there is no great strategic imperative or agenda by Government to pursue the use of fracking.
“The primary aim, as legislators, is to ensure that we give proper consideration to the issues and evidence, avoid unintended consequences, and provide legal clarity.”
A report was published by the Sustainable Water Network to go along with the bill, which concluded that the impact of fracking on Ireland’s water supply would be damaging.
One of the authors of the report, Dr. Kieran Craven, said: “Our research shows that over the past decade there have been many documented impacts to water bodies arising from shale-gas activities.
“Degradation of the water environment has occurred in regions of the U.S., where regulation has typically lagged behind industry. Based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature, it is our view that many of these potential impacts would lead to the pollution of both surface and groundwater in the proposed regions of Ireland.”
Friends of the Earth deputy director, Kate Ruddock, said: “this isn’t just a crucial step towards banning fracking, it is an historic first step towards a fossil free future for Ireland.
“It’s a tribute to the local campaigners who have worked long and hard to raise concerns about fracking, to their democratic representatives who have responded to those concerns, and to the 2,500 people who emailed their local TDs in the last week asking them to #BackTheBill.”