Updated: 10/05/17 : 06:31:10
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'Love Leitrim' welcomes Fracking Bill amendment

By Dervilla Keegan

In April, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment published a report on its scrutiny of Deputy Tony McLoughlin's Private Members Bill on the ban on fracking.

While welcoming the report and its support for Deputy McLoughlin's bill, Love Leitrim was aware that the consideration was being given to implementing the ban as an amendment to existing legislation, instead of as a standalone, private member's bill.

On Tuesday, 9 May, the Committee unanimously approved an amendment to the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act, 1960, introduced by Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources Sean Kyne on behalf of the government. This amendment explicitly prohibits the exploration and extraction of Ireland's onshore petroleum by fracking. This vote signals the end of the committee stage of the bill, which is another major milestone in the legislative process.
Love Leitrim is satisfied that government's approach retains the core objective of Deputy McLoughlin's bill - that there should be a complete and comprehensive ban on the use of fracking in Ireland's lands and internal waters. It establishes a robust and unambiguous definition of fracking that is not tightly linked to current technologies, encompasses both exploration and extraction, does not inhibit renewable technologies such as geothermal, and allows breaches to attract the highest class of penalties available.
"This amendment bill, taken together with the shift in the Government's attitude to climate change signalled in the draft National Mitigation Plan, makes the ban strong and secure," said Love Leitrim chair Johnny Gogan.

Love Leitrim welcomes the fact that this amendment will proceed on government time, giving the ban a much greater chance of becoming law before the summer recess.

Speaking outside the Dáil yesterday, Love Leitrim member Scott Coombs said "the committee and its officials are justifiably proud of the work they have put into this legislation. The Attorney General also deserves praise in drafting an amendment that preserves the full intent of the original bill. We think this is a good day for communities, the environment and public health in Ireland."
Coombs concluded "This bill also demonstrates that, when coupled with genuine public consultation, our political system can express the public will and promote the public good. Love Leitrim looks forward to a continued and positive engagement with this process."