In January 2012, Fermanagh District Council passed a motion confirming its opposition to the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, as it is commonly referred to, for gas exploration in the Lough Allen Basin and called on the Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster, to place a moratorium on the licence granted to Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD, was also sent a similar request in view of the possible impacts of fracking on parts of the Erne Catchment under the control of Dáil Éireann.
The Council has concerns regarding the impact of the proposed project on agriculture and the rural environment, especially if following the initial investigations, consents are issued to allow exploration drilling. Fermanagh District Council has written to the respective Ministers, namely Minister Arlene Foster, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment; Minister Michelle O’Neill, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; and Minister Alex Attwood, Department of the Environment, to outline Members’ concerns.
In cooperation with Leitrim County Council, Sligo County Council, and Cavan County Council, Fermanagh District Council is seeking a meeting with Ministers Foster, Attwood, and Rabbitte, to discuss the shared concerns of the Councils and to seek assurances on the way forward.
Fermanagh District Council cannot put a moratorium in place, only the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment can agree to a moratorium. If a moratorium is not placed on the exploratory licence granted to Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd, Fermanagh District Council will do everything in its power to ensure that any Environmental Impact Assessment carried out on the proposals will be subject to detailed scrutiny by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Fermanagh District Council has no responsibility or authority for the granting of exploratory mineral licences, does not have a regulatory role on the matter, nor has any authority or responsibility for making a determination on any Environmental Impact Assessment.
The Council is fully committed to its role of civic leadership and advocacy on this matter and is working to bring Members’ concerns, and those of the wider community, to the attention of relevant Ministers for their consideration.