A major debate on Fracking was held the EU Parliament two weeks ago. Two major reports on environment and energy issues associated with fracking were discussed. MEPs had the opportunity to study the reports and propose amendments to these. Among over 70 amendments to the original documents, an amendment was proposed urging Member States “not to authorise any new hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU”.

This amendment, which basically was a call for an EU-wide moratorium on fracking, was actively supported by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI), who lobbied all MEPs before the debate. Many positive responses were received but the amendment was defeated by 391 votes to 262 against. MEP Marian Harkin supported the amendment, as did Pat the Cope Gallagher and all Labour MEPs. All Fine Gael MEPs voted against the amendment.

On behalf of GEAI, Dr Aedin McLoughlin expressed her disappointment that the major Government party voted against the moratorium. “This sends out the message that Government promises of delaying fracking until 2014 are not as definite as they sound and confirms our worry that Exploration Licences could be granted in the near future. As things stand at present, licences could be given in 2013 which would allow deep drilling and estimations of gas reserves and flow, without the use of hydraulic fracturing (the forcing of huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to shatter the shale rock layer). Such limited exploration licences have already been issued in Antrim and Down. These give the exploration companies licences to drill and to apply for permits for hydraulic fracturing in the future, and gives them rights to the petroleum products in the licencing area.”