The debate over fracking
Sir, – Neil C Oliver (December 28th) highlights the potential damage to our fresh water supplies from fracking. This same process will also have a serious negative impact on how Irish food products are perceived by our export markets abroad, worth nearly €9 billion in 2012.
While there is an ongoing acrimonious dispute worldwide as to whether fracking is a good or bad thing, the issue that should concern Bord Bia, local farm producers and all of the major international food producers, such as Glanbia, etc, is one of perception.
Irish food exports have an enviable, and well deserved, reputation worldwide as being some of the highest quality foodstuffs in the global marketplace. This reputation was hard won and maintaining the image, and indeed the reality, of clean and green farmland from where these products come from is of paramount importance if these export markets are to flourish and secure many local and international businesses into the future.
Internationally the perception of fracking is of a dirty process that contaminates the groundwater, air and soil, and it will be hard to reconcile this image with our current international reputation for clean, green farm produce.
In light of Bord Bia’s remit of promoting the sustainable and green image of Irish food and food producers, I think that this is an issue it should take extremely seriously and get involved in and up to speed with very urgently. The IFA also needs to do some serious research and get off the fence on this issue in the very near term, given that it will be its members who will be approached in the first instance to provide access to the land for drilling purposes and who will also be the first to see any ill effects from associated air, noise and water pollution.
At the moment, there are two companies seeking exploration licences from the Government, Tamboran Resources and Enegi Oil. If either or both of these companies receive this licence and even if one well is fracked, it will be a step that cannot be undone.
The reputation of our food exports will have suffered an irreparable blow and I fear many jobs will be lost on the back of the decision to grant a fracking licence. – Yours, etc,