Updated: 10/05/17 : 06:31:10Printable Version
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
that the consideration was being given to implementing the ban as an
amendment to existing legislation, instead of as a standalone, private
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
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."