Minister Denis Naughten, T.D., today welcomed the publication of the report of the EPA led Joint Research Programme on the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on the Environment and Human Health. Minister Naughten said "I believe the Report's findings justify the continuing prohibition on the licensing of hydraulic fracturing. I am on record as having raised concerns with regard to the use of hydraulic fracturing – particularly on such matters as long term well integrity; the potential release of toxic chemicals from the ground; and the significant and considerable potential implications that the use of this technology may have on people in rural communities as a consequence of the spatially dispersed pattern of housing in rural areas. I am pleased that these matters of concern have been addressed in the Report."
Minister Naughten noted the issues raised in the Report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on ground water and air quality, together with the identified gaps in legislative oversight surrounding the use of hydraulic fracturing in Ireland. Minister Naughten added "It has always been my view that any decision on the use of hydraulic fracturing should be made on the basis of peer-reviewed science. The report of the EPA led Joint Research Programme provides the robust underpinning for decision making on this issue of public concern. I have decided to refer the report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment for its consideration. I hope this will assist at the Committee Stage debate of the proposed hydraulic fracturing legislation to be progressed by the Oireachtas next year."
Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Mr. Seán Kyne, T.D., also welcomed the report, noting that a moratorium on the licensing of hydraulic fracturing has been in place since 2013 pending the outcome of the EPA led Joint Research Programme.
Note to Editors
This scientific Joint Research Programme (JRP) is based on the consideration of existing baseline data with respect to groundwater, air and seismicity and the potential implications and mitigations that are required to be considered in order to understand the possible environmental impacts of using Hydraulic Fracturing (also known as Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction or "UGEE") technology and whether or not it can be undertaken in an environmentally protective manner in accordance with the requirements of environmental law. The programme of research will assist regulators, both North and South, in making informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
The UGEE JRP was co-funded by the EPA, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment (DCCAE) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). DCCAE was represented on the Steering Group which was responsible for the award of the contract and which oversaw the project and DCCAE officials were engaged in the review of the work produced by the consortium of consultants engaged to carry out the research programme.
In early January, the Steering Group determined that there was merit in the EPA publishing an Integrated Synthesis Report on the research that has been carried out to date. This resulted in Phase 2 of the UGEE Joint Research Programme (i.e. acquisition of additional baseline data)being put on hold until there has been time to consider the findings of the research programme to date.
The UGEE Reports are available on the EPA website .