Mark H Durkan meets Fermanagh anti-fracking campaigners

Anti-fracking protesters Protesters have been staging a round-the-clock vigil at the site near Belcoo

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Environment Minister Mark Durkan has met people opposed to fracking in County Fermanagh.

Tamboran Resources wants to drill an exploratory borehole in a quarry near Belcoo to find out how much shale gas is in the ground.

Opponents see it as a first step that could lead to fracking.

Mr Durkan said his department would take into account people's concerns before deciding if drilling can go ahead.

"There were a lot of suggestions today as to what and how my department should be looking at this notification or application from Tamboran," he said.

Start Quote

We want to impress upon him the public's anger and concern that they are afraid about what is happening on their doorstep without any consultation from the company at all”

End Quote Thomas McCaffrey Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network

"There are a number of environmental concerns, health concerns, economic concerns and all of these are concerns that I have listened to today and that I will certainly consider when assessing this from Tamboran."

Thomas McCaffrey, of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, said the test drill should be subject to a full planning application with an environmental impact assessment and potentially a public health impact assessment.

"We consider it to be unconventional gas exploration and extraction as one whole process and you can't separate out the drilling of an initial exploratory borehole from the whole process of unconventional gas extraction," he said.

"We impressed upon him the need for the public to see that their politicians are doing something to alleviate the situation, because people are out there camping and, if nothing's done, they're going to be there in December, because people are that passionate about it, they're not going to leave until they're convinced that something is being done about it.

"We want to impress upon him the public's anger and concern that they are afraid about what is happening on their doorstep without any consultation from the company at all."

Injunction extended

On Wednesday, Tamboran was granted an extension to a High Court injunction to stop protesters getting close to a quarry.

Protesters against the fracking have been holding a vigil at the quarry.

The company said the extension was granted due to "unlawful incidents".

Last Friday, Tamboran was granted a court order that prohibits people from entering or occupying land at Gandrum Road, or preventing Tamboran from carrying out exploratory mining operations and obstructing access to and from the site.

The quarry is owned by Acheson and Glover and Tamboran has taken out a four-month lease to carry out exploratory drilling work.

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