NI fracking test ‘does not set a precedent for us’ - Fitzgerald

Richard Boyd Barrett says three water reservoirs closed despite claims of no danger

AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett described a fracking test by oil company Infrastrata on land in Co Antrim owned by Northern Ireland Water as “significant and alarming”. File photograph: Getty Images

AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett described a fracking test by oil company Infrastrata on land in Co Antrim owned by Northern Ireland Water as “significant and alarming”. File photograph: Getty Images

 

The Government has no plans to change the situation on fracking licences, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said as concerns were raised about test drilling starting in Northern Ireland.

AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett described a test by oil company Infrastrata on land in Co Antrim owned by Northern Ireland Water as “significant and alarming”.

Hydraulic fracking involves injecting fluid containing a combination of chemicals into the ground at extremely high pressures. The resulting cracks can allow oil and gas to emerge.

Ms Fitzgerald stressed that the test drilling was taking place in a different jurisdiction and it “does not set a precedent for us here”.

Raising the issue on the order of business Mr Boyd Barrett said that “while Northern Ireland Water and the company claim there is no danger to the water, they have had to close three reservoirs”.

Significant consequences

The Dún Laoghaire TD said they started the test drilling without planning, environmental assessment or consultation and said this had very significant consequences for the State.

He asked whether the Government was moving towards a ban on fracking, when the Environmental Protection Agency report would be published and whether legislation would be introduced.

The Tánaiste said there were no plans for legislation right now, the EPA report had not yet been received “and there are many environmental considerations which will have to be discussed. There are no plans to change the current situation on licences for fracking.”