The Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE) Joint Research Programme is directed at examining the potential environmental and human health impacts of hydraulic fracturing. The programme is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
Research which is coordinated by the EPA, is being undertaken by a group of independent organisations including, CDM Smith, British Geological Survey, University College Dublin, Ulster University, Queens University Belfast, AMEC Foster Wheeler and Philip Lee Solicitors.
There are many elements to this comprehensive research programme, including baseline analysis and desk –based literature reviews.
Five of the main programme elements are:
- Impacts on surface waters, groundwater and related ecosystems;
- Impacts on seismic activity;
- Impacts on air quality;
- International operational practice and impact mitigation measures; and
- Regulatory regimes for fracking in different countries
The project began in August 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in July 2016. There has been good progress made on the programme to date. No decisions will be made on any proposal for the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling as part of an unconventional gas exploration programme, until there has been time to consider the outcome of the research programme.
Once research has been concluded and findings have been considered, a final report will be made publically available. Further details on the research programme are currently available on a dedicated website www.ugeeresearch.ie