Cllr attempts to ban all 'fracking' within Fingal
An attempt to effectively ban the practice of 'fracking' in Fingal has been described as 'premature' by the council executive who argued that the local authority should wait for a national policy on the issue before deciding whether or not, fracking should be allowed in Fingal.
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.
Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
The process is hugely controversial and has given rise to environmental concerns and has even been linked to earth tremors.
Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) sought to effectively outlaw the practice in Fingal in a motion suggesting an amendment to the new Fingal County Development Plan to 'prohibit the process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, within Fingal'.
In a written response to Cllr Butler's proposal, the county executive explained that there is 'no current Government policy on the process of 'fracking' in Ireland'.
The council report states: 'However, the Government has noted that it won't consider issuing the relevant exploration licences to permit such activity until a major study on fracking is completed by the EPA to enable informed decision making.
'This study is not completed to date, so the future potential of fracking in Ireland is therefore uncertain.'
The council said that the EPA has commissioned a research programme into the potential impacts of unconventional gas exploration and extraction on the environment and human health.
This all-island programme of research, which is being administered by the EPA, involves field studies as well as an extensive desk-based literature review of unconventional gas exploration and extraction practices and regulations worldwide.
This scientific research programme considers existing baseline data with respect to groundwater, air and seismicity, and the potential implications and mitigations that are required to be considered to understand the environmental impacts of using this technology and whether it can be undertaken in an environmentally protective manner.
The council executive, argued in the light of all that work that still has to be completed: 'The outcome of this EPA study will provide the scientific basis to inform decision makers and until such time as Government Policy surrounding the fracking process is prepared, it would be inappropriate to insert an objective into the Development Plan to prohibit such activity at this time.' Cllr Butler withdrew his motion pending the results of those studies.