Leitrim should follow Donegal’s example

How has Donegal prevented fracking while Leitrim is advised that a ban is not feasible?  READ ON…

The Leitrim County Development Plan 2015 – 2021 is at draft stage and does not in its present version impose a ban on fracking. At present, its policy on mineral and extrative industries (Policy 69) is “”It is the policy of the Council to promote the mineral, gas and oil extractive industries where such development does not adversely impact on the environment, existing infrastructure and the amenity value of neighbouring lands.”

It is the view of GEAI members that this policy statement is not strong enough and does not give the message that proposals for fracking in Leitrim will not be allowed to go ahead.

It has a section ( that emphasises the “significant public concern in respect to the social, economic and environmental impacts that may be associated with hydrocarbon exploration and extraction by means of fracking.” The piece goes on to talk about adopting the precautionary principle in respect of development where significant environmental implications are involved…  It also points out the wish of the Council to “Safeguard and nurture the ‘unspoilt/green’ image and reputation of Leitrim…”

Is this enough? We do not think so – the issue of Fracking is far too serious to be addressed by generalised comments on “image and reputation”, no matter how well-meaning.  In New Brunswick, there were many discussions that focussed on precautionary principles, but these have not stopped fracking from commencing (Chief Medical Officer’s Report).

The Councillors have had advice both from the County Manager and outside legal advisor that Councils cannot put into their Development Plan policies that go against Government policies.  The absence of a national policy on Fracking is considered to be an indication that it cannot be banned unilaterally.  However, Donegal County Council have managed to get around that problem.  They have inserted the following policy statement into their Development Plan:

“It is a policy of Donegal County Council that the process of Hydraulic Fracturing (or fracking) will not be permitted within the County of Donegal. Therefore, this Council will not allow the intrusive shale gas extraction practices.”

What this does is specify the process of hydraulic fracturing in Donegal ONLY.  This is very clever.  By focussing on the process in its own territory, it is not contravening Government policy, while (of course) completely preventing the shale gas industry from operating in Donegal, since they cannot do that without hydraulic fracturing!


Enniskillen: Big attendance at Dr Cleary’s lecture

Dr Eilish Cleary

Dr Eilish Cleary (picture AG)

Dr John Graham

Dr John Graham (picture AG)

Last monday, Dr Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health in New Brunswick, Canada, came to Enniskillen and gave a presentation about her report “Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas
Development in New Brunswick”. Around 150 people attended at the event organized and facilitated by Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network. (FFAN). Gary McFarlane, director of Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and co-chair of the Public Health Alliance introduced her lecture. This institution works “to assist in reestablishing the critical links between environment and health within the context of sustainable development and public health”. Dr John Graham, retired Public Health physician, closed the conference and opened the debate with the attendance.
From her experience in New Brunswick, Eilish Cleary warned that public health is not included in the fracking process, and that a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is as much important as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). She observed “significant gaps in data” and that “Public Health officials and experts have often been late or absent from discussions about shale gas regulations in most juridictions”.
See our press release about the HIA’s need in EPA proposed fracking research, in Ireland.
(picture AG)

Dr. Eilish Cleary from Canada is coming to Enniskillen

We have pleasure in communicating this message from Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN):
“FFAN have arranged for Dr Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health in New Brunswick, Canada to present a talk entitled ‘Public Health Issues concerning Shale Gas Extraction & Fracking’ at:
the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen on Monday 28. Jan 2013 at 8.00pm.
Attached is a poster for the above event.
Although all are welcome we are aiming specifically at Doctors & other Health Care Professional, NHS & HSE managers as well as politicians.
Please spread the word to your local GP & Hospital Consultant and Managers.”
FFAN made a synopsis of CMOH New Brunswick Report into Public Health.
The full report is available here.

Important new report on health risks from shale gas development and recommendations to government

“As Chief Medical Officer of Health, I am therefore providing these recommendations to our government to offer advice on measures that should be put in place to maximize the health benefits and minimize the health risks related to shale gas development if the decision is taken to go ahead with it. In addition, this document is intended to provide information to the many others who have a role to play in protecting the health of the public. “
Dr. Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health, New Brunswick Department of Health, Canada.
New Brunswick Health Officer’s Recommendations: click on this link to download the report [pdf].


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