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Minister Fergus O’Dowd has finally given in to pressure from those campaigning against shale gas exploration and announced an unofficial moratorium on exploration licences.
In a press release on 7th March, he confirmed that two companies, Tamboran and Enegi Oil, have applied for licences and that his Department would be evaluating those applications. However, “further consideration of the application will then be put on hold until after the finding of the new EPA research have been published”, he said. He also said that he does not propose ”to consider applications for exploration authorisation in respect of other onshore areas until the EPA research has concluded”.
This means that no Exploration Licences will be given out for at least two years as the EPA report is not due until 2015.
This is a great victory for the campaigners. Recently, Good Energies Alliance Ireland organised an intense letter-writing campaign to the Minister demanding that the Government gave a commitment that no further licences would be granted for fracking. Other campaigners also had a “Licence Not to Frack Leitrim” campaign and went to Leinster House to express their concerns. Local TDs, Senators and Councillors also put pressure on the Minister. Those actions have paid off.
Statement from GEAI
“We are delighted with this development. It shows the power of the campaign that through our efforts we were able to influence the Government to pull back from issuing Exploration Licences that would give the companies concerned rights to drill. We now have two years to bring our campaign to the wider population, to raise awareness that this is a national issue, not a local one and that the consequences of allowing this industry free rein in our country could be a national disaster. The campaign is not over by any means – this is only a temporary moratorium, our ultimate goal is achieving a total ban on fracking in Ireland and we will keep working until this happens.”