Safety questions remain over fracking

Published Thursday, 13 December 2012
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Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the safety of a controversial technique to extract gas from the ground is still in question.

Safety questions remain over fracking
Fracking has caused controversy in counties Fermanagh and Leitrim. (© UTV)

He was speaking after government gave the go-ahead for a firm to resume fracking in Lancashire.

Work had been stopped in the wake of two tremors and conditions have been imposed to minimise the risk of seismic activity.

The company Tamboran hoped to begin extracting shale gas in Fermanagh by early 2014.

Mr Attwood said the key question is how safe fracking is but any decision on the issue is strictly for Stormont.

"I note the further position of the London government," said the SDLP minister.

"However, I want to confirm that decisions on fracking in Northern Ireland are strictly for the Northern Ireland government.

There is of course a wider and more fundamental issue, that is the question as to how safe is fracking? The science on this is still developing. Research is continuing in Europe, in America and on this island. It will be some time before that research is concluded

Alex Attwood

"In particular, I have warned against a headlong rush in to fracking and I repeat that today."

Fracking involves creating small explosions underground then injecting water and chemicals to release gas trapped in cavities in shale rock.

Some of those who oppose the technique say it can cause water pollution and small earthquakes.

Great Britain Energy Secretary Ed Davey said shale gas has potential as a new energy resource for the UK and that the possible effects of water and air pollution are already covered by current rules for oil and gas.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin's Phil Flanagan said the decision announced by the Government should not impact future decisions in Ireland.

"A much broader analysis of the risks of fracking will need to take place," he said.

"Not only should that look at the potential impact from earthquakes, but also the damage to the landscape, noise, air pollution and the very real risk of groundwater contamination.

"I am confident that once all of these matters are addressed, then the proper decision will be made and proposals to carry out fracking across Ireland will be rejected."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
alan in mid-ulster wrote (776 days ago):
We have the means for our homes to have self generating energy with solar panals and wind dinamos, how about investing our tax payers money into easing domestic bills instead of paying masive amounts of tax payers money to politians, trust managers and funding wars that are a drain on our resources
Phil in Belfast wrote (777 days ago):
If our ENVIRONMENT Minister Alex Attwood had the slightest concern for our environment he would be against fracking here, no if's no buts no maybes. For anyone wanting to know more about fracking watch a documentary called GASLAND.
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