Thursday, 16 June 2016

Questions (38)

Mick Barry

Question:

38. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the campaign of opposition to the exploratory hydraulic fracturing taking place at Woodburn Forest in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, and reports that the companies involved in hydraulic fracturing have expressed an interest in performing similar explorations in County Leitrim. [16115/16]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Applications to carry out exploration and production activities in jurisdictions outside of the Republic of Ireland are a matter solely for the authorities in such jurisdictions and other than statutory transboundary consultation, the Irish authorities have no role in the consideration of such applications.  

On the broader question relating to unconventional gas exploration and extraction in this jurisdiction, in coming to a view whether the use of this technology could be permitted in Ireland, it was considered necessary in the first instance to establish if this technology could be carried out in a manner that would not negatively impact on the environment and human health. Having consulted publicly on the terms of reference for a research programme, the issues identified on foot of this process have been included in the scope of the research programme being administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with oversight from a broad based Steering Committee that includes my Department.

The Steering Committee took the view at the beginning of 2016 that it was an appropriate time to reflect on the overall timeline for the delivery of the research. The Steering Committee has agreed a revised scope of work to combine all of the work carried out to date into a meaningful synthesis report, which will be published once concluded. It is anticipated that this report will be published by year end.

No application to engage in Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction has been received in the Department, nor would any such application, if submitted, be considered until the research programme has concluded and there has been time to consider the findings of the synthesis report. Any policy decision will be taken in the context of the objective of achieving a low carbon energy system by 2050.