Fracking will now be banned in Ireland thanks to the first Private Members Bill to be passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas by a Government TD.Following its Dáil success in May, the Senate yesterday also passed the Bill.
Ireland will now join three other EU member states – France, Germany and Bulgaria – in banning the practice on land.The Bill, put forward by Fine Gael TD Tony McLouglin, will now be signed into law by the President in the coming days.
The Sligo-Leitrim Deputy and assistant Fine Gael whip said: “I am delighted that my Bill will now be made law and will protect hundreds of thousands of people from the harmful and damaging effects of hydraulic fracking.
The delighted Sligo-based deputy told Sligo Today
, “This is a special moment for me and the people I was elected to represent.
“Since I introduced my Bill to this House on 8th June 2016 at the First Stage, it has progressed at a rapid pace. This is a very necessary law that has been heavily scrutinised and continually improved throughout its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
“The progress of this Bill this year shows the concept of ‘new politics’ can work very well when all sides of the house engage pro-actively together."
Deputy McLoughlin gave the 'thumbs up' outside Leinster House when his Anti-Fracking Bill was passed by Dáil Eireann in May.
Deputy McLoughlin continued, “This law will mean communities in the West and North West of Ireland will be safeguarded from the negative effects of hydraulic fracking. Counties such as Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Clare will no longer face negative effects like those seen in cities and towns in the United States, where many areas have now decided to implement similar bans to the one before us.
“If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.
“Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland," Deputy McLoughlin said.
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, involves drilling into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture, sometimes using sand and chemicals, is forced into rock.
Openings are created for gas to seep out into deep wells with energy companies have explored for large shale and other tight sandstone deposits in Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal and Clare.
which helped to spearhead the anti-fracking campaign, has said it has a responsibility to pursue a similar ban in Northern Ireland as many waterways across the region are connected.
Its chairman Eddie Mitchell said the issue was national and international, not local.
"We by nature are close to the land, and maybe we have become watchdogs like our parents before us," he said.
"We have a responsibility to the land and each other and the life that the land nurtures.
"We feel privileged we can make a difference in our own small way in dealing with bigger challenges.
"We all have to be able to come together for the biggest fight the planet now faces, climate change.
"We hope that our successful campaign here will be a catalyst for other communities and show what can be achieved." Aedin McLoughlin, Environmental Pillar spokeswoman and director of the Good Energies Alliance Ireland, said: "The long road is travelled and we have come successfully to its end.
"For six years we have looked forward to this day, when the Irish government would ban fracking and protect our rural environment and communities from this industry that poisons drinking water and air."
Three exploratory licences were granted in Ireland in 2011 for fracking, but no extraction has taken place.