Campaigners deliver petition to ban oil drilling to Minister Naughten’s office

September 20th, 2017

Campaigners today delivered a petition to the Minister of the Environment calling on him to use his powers to ban all future oil and gas exploration in Irish waters.

Members of the grassroots environmental campaign group Not Here, Not Anywhere gathered outside Minister Naughten’s offices on Adelaide Road this evening to voice concern at the decision to grant consent for oil & gas drilling in the Porcupine Basin.

The group presented the Minister with a novelty cheque on behalf of the 2,600 people of Ireland who signed the petition, and called on him to “represent those who elected him, not the big money of the oil industry”.

Drilling by Providence Resources PLC in the Porcupine Basin began on 11th July, just one week after a Bill to ban onshore fracking in Ireland was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.

The process of oil drilling itself and the implicit risk of oil spills could seriously threaten the seafood industry, which according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) had a GDP of €1.1 billion last year and employs approximately 11,000 people.

The group said that “as an island nation, protecting our seas and our marine life should take priority over fossil fuel extraction”.

It is clear that Irish citizens are demanding a transition away from a “dying, destructive industry” towards achieving energy security through renewable sources, a spokesperson from the group added.

“The tides are turning on the fossil fuel industry. However, it remains to be seen if our leaders heed the winds of change. Today, we have shown Minister Naughten that the Irish people are against practices which threaten our marine life and contribute to catastrophic global warming.”

Consent for the current project in the Porcupine Basin was granted by the Minister of State for Natural Resources Sean Kyne, who defended the decision due to the potential benefits of an “enhanced security supply and reduced fossil fuel imports”.

However, instead of finding an estimated five billion barrels of oil, both of the company’s exploration wells yielded only water, with the market taking notes as stocks dropped by 16 per cent in Dublin and almost 30 per cent in London.

Oisín Coghlan, Friends of the Earth Ireland & Ciara Barry, Not Here, Not Anywhere Photo: Niall Sargent

Supporting the campaign, Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, Oisin Coughlan, said that the Irish Government should seriously listen to the warning of international climate experts to move away from fossil fuel extraction as soon as possible.

Mr Coughlan added that Minister Naughten is “indulging in Orwellian levels of Doublethink” in granting consent for these “mad plans” to continue drilling while at the same time hoping to honour the Paris climate agreement.

“Scientists and economists are telling us we need to leave at least two-thirds of existing reserves of fossil fuels in the ground unburned to have any chance of achieving the Paris climate stability goals,” he said.

“There is simply to no reason, and no justification, for the Irish Government to be licensing further exploration for new oil and gas.”

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment did not respond to a request from the Green News as to any future plans to stop granting exploration licenses at the time of publication.

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