Northern Ireland

Fracking: Report recommends more research to allay concerns

Fracking Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Fracking is a process to force gas out of shale rock by injecting water and chemicals into it under pressure

A fracking report has found that more research is needed into the controversial practice to allay health and environmental concerns.

The report, partly funded by a Stormont department, was compiled by the Environment Protection Agency in Dublin.

Two hundred thousand pounds was paid towards the cost by Stormont's former Department of Environment.

No fracking was carried out during the two-year research programme.

The report said that before there's any authorisation for hydraulic fracturing, three key areas need further research.

These include the potential for pollution of groundwater from a failing well casing; the risk of groundwater contamination by the transfer of pollutants through rock fractures and long-term leakage of methane from capped wells after their closure.

The report was designed to help regulators on both sides of the border decide whether fracking can be done without harming the environment or human health.

Fracking is a process to force gas out of shale rock by injecting water and chemicals into it under pressure.

There is a presumption against it in Northern Ireland's planning regulations until there's robust evidence to address health and environmental concerns.

In the Republic of Ireland, a bill to ban fracking is making its way through the Dáil.

The research programme consisted of a desktop review of existing literature by technical experts.

There had been some criticism of it when it emerged that it was being led by a consultancy firm with links to the gas industry.

Australian company Tamboran had plans for exploratory work on a fracking facility in County Fermanagh.

It's now suing two Stormont departments after its plans were rejected in 2014.

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