Victory! GEAI welcomes passing of anti-fracking Bill

celebrating-tonys-bill

Toasting the success of the Campaign

 

GEAI’s Finest Hour

Last Thursday, history was made in Ireland!  A Bill to prohibit exploration and extraction of Petroleum from shale, tight sands and coal seams was brought before the members of the Oireachtas who unanimously supported the Bill and agreed to bring it to the next stage (the committee stage) of the process towards becoming law.  This Bill, when enacted, will act as a comprehensive ban on fracking, which is its primary objective.  The campaign against fracking has won a significant victory and has proved that fracking is not wanted in Ireland and that opposition to fracking comes from every party in the Dáil and from every province in Ireland.

GEAI indeed has cause to celebrate.  It is five years since Good Energies Alliance Ireland was formed to join the campaign against fracking in Ireland.  Since then, we have constantly lobbied, politically and though the media, to raise awareness of the harms resulting from fracking and to influence decision-makers locally and nationally to impose a ban on this dirty industry.  We have been involved at every level – local, regional and national – at community level as well as at political and academic.

“Stop the Study” – the Turning Point

Rally 6A turning point in the campaign was last year’s “Stop the Study” campaign, where GEAI spear-headed the drive against allowing the implementation of on-the-ground studies of the suitability of land in Fermanagh and Leitrim for fracking.  As a result of the joint action by campaigners, which included:

  • research into the facts surrounding the implementation of the study
  • an intense social media drive and lobbying of Oireachtas members,
  • public meetings,
  • a rally in front of Leinster House,
  • a presentation to all members inside the House,
  • briefing of all TDs,
  • special briefing of members of the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee

enough pressure was brought to bear on Government to cause the ground studies to be cancelled and the study to be confined to desktop studies. (This study in now imminent.)

Cross-party support for Tony’s Bill

tony-back-the-billThe issue of Fracking had now become national!  This paved the way for the introduction of no less than three Private Members Bills proposing to ban fracking into which GEAI had input.  These went into a “lottery” and Tony McLoughlin’s Bill was drawn this month. A frenzy of campaigning started by GEAI, Love Leitrim, Friends of the Earth and other organisations.  Last Thursday saw the culmination of all of this effort – a Bill that sought to prohibit the process of fracking was supported by every party in the Dáil and by every TD who spoke during the debate on 27th October.

“After five years of continuous campaigning against fracking, all the organisations involved in our campaign  can celebrate a huge milestone.  To have such unanimous support for this Bill is an incredible achievement for local communities threatened with fracking.  It shows the strength of the united people’s voice backed with the tools of advocacy and social media.  We thank everyone involved and especially Tony McLoughlin TD who brought the bill forward and fought against an amendment that would have delayed the debate.  We are delighted that one of our Directors, Eddie Mitchell, was responsible for the wording of the Bill, together with Kate Ruddock from Friends of the Earth.”
(Aedín McLoughlin, Director GEAI)

A word of warning – we are not there yet!

However, the destination has still not been reached. The EPA report is due to be published and we don’t know what this will say about fracking and what influence it will have on government policy; there are legal issues to be addressed and the Bill can be watered down as it goes through committee stage. We will be vigilant and watch carefully to make sure that what the Dáil clearly wants actually happens – a complete and permanent ban on fracking throughout Ireland.

But – today we celebrate our finest hour together with our friends nationally and internationally who, with us, want fracking to be banned throughout the world!

The end of Fracking proposals in Ireland?

Could this stop the oil and gas industry?

Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael T.D., has put forward an amendment to the Petroleum and Minerals Act that, though outwardly simple, could effectively ban any further on-shore exploration or extraction of oil or gas from rock or coal in the Republic of Ireland.

Wording of the Amendment

Wording of Explanatory Memorandum

Essential wording

“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act of the Oireachtas no Minister, Agency,
Planning Authority or Body acting on behalf of the State shall grant an authorisation and/
or grant of any consent, licence, permit, lease or undertaking for the exploration or
extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands or coal seams in the Irish onshore
and Ireland’s internal waters.”

There’s a long road ahead for this Bill.  It must be debated in the Dáil (probably in the autumn), go to Committee stage, come back to the Dáil, etc.  So, this will not be enacted in the near future.  However, it does constitute a very significant way forward for the campaign against fracking.

NOW THE LOBBYING MUST START!

NO TO MORE SLASH AND BURN!

Sign this petition to show your support for the wildlife that do not have a voice!
A Campaign created by:
Irish Wildlife Trust, Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and Hedge Laying Association of Ireland.
TO: THE MINISTER FOR ARTS, HERITAGE AND THE GAELTACHT, HEATHER HUMPHREYS TD

We ask you to reconsider your proposal to change the Wildlife Act to allow for the burning of vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August and establish proper hedgerow and upland management regimes that works for farming, road safety and wildlife.

Why is this important?

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has proposed changes to the Wildlife Act that will allow for the burning of vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August. We challenge this decision by the Minister on the grounds of the serious impact it will have on a range of wildlife species and habitats in Ireland – especially highly-threatened nesting birds and pollinators found in our hedgerows and uplands. The Bill to facilitate these changes is going to be fast-tracked through the Oireachtas prior to the forthcoming General Election. We ask you to please add your name to halt this Bill and save Irish wildlife.

Our hedgerows are a vital refuge for many native wildlife species in a landscape with little native woodland compared to other countries. Hedgerows provide food, shelter, nesting sites, habitat corridors and are an essential component for flood defenses, preventing soil erosion and the silting of rivers as well as carbon sequestration. Our hedgerows and upland habitats need proper management, though. Landowners and farmers must be supported to manage them in a way that works for farming, road safety and wildlife. Under existing rules, landowners have six months between September and February to manage hedgerows and uplands effectively and there is provision for hedgecutting for safety on our roads. Therefore, this decision is unwarranted, will cause a significant blow to already threatened wildlife species and goes against advice submitted by Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Irish Wildlife Trust.

The change to the hedge-cutting dates will lead to further declines in populations of Red-listed Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch birds and reduce essential food supplies for pollinators, of which a third are threatened with extinction.

Our upland breeding birds are experiencing significant declines with several species now of Conservation Concern, including the Red-listed Curlew, Golden Plover and Meadow Pipit. Breeding Curlew have experienced an almost 80% decline in the last 40 years. How sad it will be to lose the Cry of the Curlew in our lifetimes. Many of our upland habitats are of international importance and protected under the EU Habitats Directive. These habitats also provide a range of benefits to humans such as carbon sequestration, water filtration and attenuation to protect against floods. Why then is the Minister supporting any burning in the uplands given the fragile state of its wildlife and habitats? By allowing burning of our uplands into March, nesting activities of sensitive upland ground-nesting birds will be affected along with the breeding success of these populations.

We ask you to join us in our campaign to persuade the Government to reverse this decision before the Heritage Bill 2016, passed through the Oireachtas. Sign our petition to show your support for the wildlife that do not have a voice. If we do nothing, we risk losing yet more of our natural heritage here in Ireland.

Join us and support “No to More Slash and Burn!

How it will be delivered

Deliver the petition in person.

Victory! “No plans” for Fracking Study Monitoring

blogTenders are not being issued

Our Stop the Study campaign has had an impact!  Tenders for contractors to set up monitoring stations in Fermanagh, Leitrim and Clare and do air, water and ground monitoring for 12 months have not been issued.  And this week we learned from Senator Paschal Mooney, who asked the question of the EPA, that “there are no plans to initiate this process at the moment”.

We are really delighted with this news. Basically it stops the Research Study in its tracks.  The September progress report indicated that most of the desk research is “nearly complete” and what remains is the study of the local terrain and its suitability for fracking.  Without such monitoring, the study can’t be finished and therefore is worthless.11-06-2015_Demonstration.Dublin.Leinster.House (34)

However, the campaign is not over yet. 

On 2nd December the EPA comes before the Joint Oireachtas Committee to answer questions arising from our findings concerning the study and its take-over by companies heavily involved in the oil and gas industry.  Even since our Rally on 5th November, further findings have come to light regarding the tendering process for the  entire study.  Truly a can of worms!  It is horrifying to discover that the industry were involved in the study process from the start.  From the drafting of the terms of reference to the tendering and contract process, the industry had their grubby fingerprints all over it.

We will not let them get away with it!  North and South, Ireland is showing that campaigning can and does work.  Especially when combined with the multiple approaches we are using:

  • Research
  • Social media
  • Freedom of information requests
  • Political lobbying
  • Meetings
  • Rallies and demonstrations
  • Celebrity endorsements (Thank you, Mark Ruffalo!)

This takes hard and dedicated work but is a powerful combination that will not let the oil and gas industry desecrate this lovely land of ours.

STOP THE STUDY!

 

“Stop the Study” November 5th!

STOP THE STUDY PLACARD
Publicity for our Campaign!
All gather outside Leinster House at 12.30pm to show solidarity and put pressure on our politicians!

Please make placards with the same design as shown.  You can put in your own place names or organisation so we will have

CORK SAYS
GALWAY SAYS
SIPTU SAYS etc.

Please use this format – it is simple but effective if we all have the same. We will have some blank placards so people will be able to add their places or organisations.

We will also have a surprise installation to give lurid effects!

At 1.30pm, a few of us will have an opportunity in Leinster House to brief Oireachtas members and advisors about our campaign and the reasons for it.  Not all campaigners will be able to attend this, but we will hopefully have attracted media attention and drawn attention to our cause.

STOP THE STUDY – NO FRACKING IN IRELAND!

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