“DIRECT RISKS TO HEALTH” – MEDACT REPORT

Medact is a medical charity based in London that educates, analyses and campaigns for global health on issues related to conflict, poverty and the environment.

On 7th of July Medact released a an updated assessment of the potential health impacts of  unconventional shale gas production in England.

This new report updates the review from 2015 with the latest evidence from more than 350 academic papers on the impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) for shale gas on air and water quality, health, climate change, social well being, economics, noise and light pollution, and seismic events.

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Links:

Read the summary.

Download the full report.

 

Stop the Study Rally and Presentations

11-06-2015_Demonstration.Dublin.Leinster.House (34)
An amazing day! 

It started off at 12.30 with a Rally outside Leinster House that was attended by members of over 20 organisations, all with placards, banners and home-made signs.   The message was made loud and clear:  We want the discredited EPA study on fracking STOPPED and we want No Fracking in Ireland!  Attendees included people from all over Ireland – Dublin, Clare, Sligo Wexford, Leitrim and Fermanagh.  FRACKING IS A NATIONAL ISSUE!

Stop the Study Leaflet – feel free to download and print.    Leaflet Outside     Leaflet Inside

VIDEO OF THE DAY:  Many thanks to Just Multimedia for their excellent edit and speedy production!

Meeting Public Representatives in Leinster House

Aedin speaking 051115At 1.30, campaigners made presentations to a packed gallery, including TDs, Senators and MEP.

Aedín McLoughlin made the first presentation titled: “EPA Study on Fracking: A Compromised Process”.  Her main points were:

  • This study does not explore policy on fracking; it is focussed on the process of allowing fracking in Ireland.
  • The study is controlled by the oil and gas industry, who are carrying out the bulk of the work and writing it up.
  • Health impacts are not included in the study, instead they are looking at the role of HIA in regulation (Health Impact Assessment)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), who were to guarantee the independence of the study, opted out of the research team before it started; yet the Oireachtas and Minister were informed that QUB were an integral member of the consortium.  This study is NOT independent.

Download the presentation: Oireachtas presentation 051115

Accompanying document: EPA study progress report September 2015

Briefing document for TDs:  Briefing Document 051115

Tom White (Love Leitrim) gave a presentation on the situation in Northern Ireland, where the Minister announced new controls on applications for extraction of hydrocarbons that included fracking.  There is a presumption against fracking “until it can be proved that it can be done safely”.  This is NOT A BAN.  Exploration can proceed, boreholes can be drilled and flared, huge quantities of water and chemicals can be used.

Rally 5Oisín Coghlan (Friends of the Earth) widened the subject of debate.  He spoke about climate change and the necessity to reduce our carbon emissions.  Friends of the Earth want fracking to be banned in Ireland.  There will be a big climate march in Dublin on 29th November; the campaign against fracking is an important aspect of this movement and he expects to see this campaign featuring prominently at the march.

Eamon Ryan (The Green Party) said that Ireland does not need fracking!  At present, and for the foreseeable future, there is no question of energy security as far as gas is concerned.  Europe has established pipelines and new sources of gas that ensures our supply.  We need to focus on renewable energies, especially in the generation of electricity, and to lower our carbon emissions by being smart.  The people at the core of policy-making still think that renewable energies are more expensive than fossil fuels.  We have to change their mindsets and make them realise that WE DO NOT NEED TO FRACK!

More information on the Stop the Study Campaign HERE

Decisions on fracking in Ireland delayed until after 2016

drilling rigIn 2012, the Government decided that no decisions on granting exploration licences for fracking would be made until a comprehensive research study would be done, coordinated by the EPA. Public consultation on the Terms of Reference of this study was carried out in 2013 and over 1,300 submissions were received by EPA, largely coordinated by GEAI. This delayed the process considerably and the contracts to carry out the 24-months study on the “Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE)” were only issued last August. It is ironic that this is exactly the same month when Tamboran was stopped from drilling their first borehole in Fermanagh!

Interim reports on the research study will be given, possibly at 6-month intervals and definitely at the end of Year 1 and Year 2. These reports will be given at public events, giving an opportunity for public engagement and discussion. The final outputs of this research will not be published until end 2016. This means that no decisions on fracking can be made in the Republic before 2017.

The consortium that will carry the research is led by the management company CDM Smith Ireland LimitedQueens University BelfastBritish Geological SurveyUniversity College DublinUniversity of Ulster, AMEC, and Philip Lee Solicitors are also part of the consortium.

The 24-month research programme is composed of five interlinked projects and will involve field studies (baseline monitoring of water and seismicity) in Clare, Leitrim and Fermanagh, as well as an extensive desk-based literature review of UGEE practices worldwide. The ‘key questions’ the research programme sets out to answer are:

  • Can UGEE projects/operations be carried out in the island of Ireland whilst also protecting the environment and human health?
  • What is ‘best environmental practice’ in relation to UGEE projects/operations?

The campaign against fracking is, in general, not satisfied with those parameters. The majority of submissions asked for a Health Impact Assessment of proposals for fracking be carried out. This was not agreed and is not included in the final Terms of Reference. Also, the research is too much focussed on the capacity of regulations to limit the impacts of fracking.

However, the study will provide more scientific information on the geology of target sites and potential environmental impacts of fracking in Ireland. 

Fracking in the North 

Carrickfergus201409_07

Despite the delay in the South, fracking projects are still going through the planning process in Northern Ireland.

Tamboran Resources Ltd is seeking a judicial review of the Fermangh licence termination. The case has been listed in Belfast High Court for this month (November). Counsel for Minister Arlene Foster has asserted that an expired licence to carry out exploratory shale gas drilling cannot be reinstated through a legal challenge.

InfraStrata is ready to drill in Woodburn Forest in spring 2015, beside Carrickfergus (Co. Antrim). The company denies the use of fracking on the site because “geology is not suitable”. This means that hydraulic fracturing will not be used in the initial exploration drilling. This statement does not guarantee that fracking will not be used during its entire project. Any on-shore extraction of oil and gas has profound and extensive impacts on the environment and on communities.

Rathlin Energy is also ready to drill in Ballinlea, near the Giant’s Causeway. They have completed their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and will be submitting that to the Council. They also plan to commence drilling in early 2015.

Leitrim says “No Fracking!”

GEAI welcomes the decision of Leitrim’s Councillors not to permit fracking.

On Monday 13th January, Leitrim County Council sent a strong message to Ireland’s Government and to the world:  The people of Leitrim are against Fracking, are united in saying that they will not permit it and any company planning to exploit shale gas should be aware of the strong opposition they will face if they try to carry out any operations in Leitrim.

A Notice of Motion was passed with a large majority that included a statement recognising the growing public concern with regard to the social, public health, economic and environmental impacts of UGEE (Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction).  Policies were proposed and passed that stated that UGEE projects or operations would not be permitted in the County.  Secondly, that UGEE operations in neighbouring counties would be scrutinised.  And thirdly, that a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) would be required as part of the Precautionary Principle to be applied to any proposal for UGEE.

We in Good Energies Alliance Ireland welcome this development.  There is no doubt that a strong message has gone forth about the opposition to fracking in Leitrim and we can rejoice.

However, we also wish to strike a note of caution – if new National Policies are decided concerning Unconventional Gas Development in the future, Local Authority policies can be overthrown.  Our campaign is not over!  We need to keep focussed on the bigger picture and by using all means, especially advocacy, to influence national decision-makers and ensure that Unconventional Gas is never included as a desired source of energy in Ireland.

Happy New Year to all our friends!

2013 is past and most of us are not unhappy to be in a New Year.  For many people and campaigners, 2013 was a tough year – throughout Ireland, people struggled with the national economic situation, personal reduction in disposable income and, of course, the looming threat of unconventional gas projects on our island.

2014 also promises to be a busy and challenging year.  The proposals to start drilling in Antrim and Fermanagh must be opposed with a really effective campaign that operates at all levels; a major campaign to advocate for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on national policy re fracking and a campaign to have an SEA on such policy must also be organised.  On top of all of that, the reality of Climate Change is hitting home and GEAI must produce some policy papers on renewable/sustainable energy sources.

Recently we received confirmation that GEAI and MARDI have been awarded a Youth Democracy project that will encourage young people from Ireland and Poland to study how environmental campaigns are waged in the two countries, also how decisions are made at EU Parliament level.  We are looking forward to this exciting, interesting and challenging project.

Certainly, there is no room for complacency – powerful consortia are eyeing our island and planning exploitation of our natural resources without any care for our environment, our heritage, or our people.  The fight against such exploitation must take place at every level – on the street, advocacy, mounting legal challenges, awareness raising throughout the island.  2014 is a crucial year with local authority and EU elections in May.  It is vital that fracking becomes an election issue with all parties and independents.

WE WISH ALL OUR SUPPORTERS A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND FRACK-FREE NEW YEAR!

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