Historic Bill to ban onshore fracking in Ireland has passed through the Dáil

Published by Niall Sargent on

May 31st, 2017

A historic Bill to ban the practice of onshore fracking in Ireland has passed the Dail, becoming the first Private Members’ Bill to do so in the process.

The Bill now moves to the Senate and is expected to become law before the summer break.

The Bill – brought by Sligo-Leitrim TD Tony McLoughlin – has received support from across the political spectrum since its introduction in June 2016.

Fracking is used to extract onshore natural gas from areas rich in shale rock. It involves the pumping of a high-pressure mix of water, chemicals and sand into the rock to create openings so that gas can seep out into deep wells.

A recent Environmental Protection Agency study states that fracking has the potential to damage both the environment and human health.

The Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment also found that fracking opens up the potential for chemical spills, leaks and groundwater contamination.

Deputy McLoughlin said his Bill will protect hundreds of thousands of people from the harmful and damaging effects of fracking. Large shale and other tight sandstone deposits are found across counties Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal and Clare.

“If it was ever permitted to occur in Ireland, counties such as Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Clare could end up seeing damaging effects like many affected cities and towns in the United States,” Mr McLoughlin said.

Mr McLoughlin lauded the “rapid pace” at which the Bill passed through the Dail, reserving special praise for a number of local and national groups including Love Leitrim, Good Energies Alliance Ireland and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ireland.

The passage of the Bill is also a victory for the global climate movement and a “shot in the arm” for a fossil fuel free future, according to Kate Ruddock of FoE Ireland.

“Ireland has a reputation as a climate laggard and too often our lack of climate action is a cause of embarrassment internationally,” she added. “But today we can be proud of our parliament for putting Ireland in the vanguard of the movement to ban fracking.”

The Bill was originally expected to pass the final stage of the Dail last Wednesday, however, was delayed due to a debate about the exclusion of off-shore fracking from the Bill.

An amendment to include off-shore fracking brought by People Before Profit Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett was defeated this morning.

While outlining his support for the Bill, Mr Boyd Barrett took to Twitter this afternoon to indicate his frustration that the three leading political parties blocked his amendment.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London