BBC News

NI Assembly hears of Fermanagh fracking change

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

image copyrightPA Media
image captionFracking is a process to force gas out of shale rock by injecting water and chemicals into it under pressure

A petroleum company has said it no longer wants to use the controversial practice of fracking to look for shale gas in County Fermanagh.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds told assembly members that Tamboran had amended its application for a licence.

She was speaking during an assembly debate on Tuesday.

The motion called for an immediate end to licensing for oil and gas exploration, reflecting the broad position across the UK and Ireland.

The cross-party motion was passed unanimously.

Research contract

Mrs Dodds said the approach to her department was made after Tamboran's fracking plan and a separate conventional exploration proposal went through public consultation.

It resulted in 5,700 responses.

"Following its own review of the responses received, one of the applicant companies, Tamboran Resources UK Ltd, made a request to the department to revise its application," she said.

"The proposed revision will remove the need for fracking, very much a direct result of the strength of opposition to this controversial technique, highlighted by the respondents to the consultation process."

Tamboran's new proposal is now being considered; one of two licence applications currently with the department.

But the minister said she would continue to award a £75,000 contract for research into the implications of oil and gas exploration, using both conventional drilling and fracking.

'Solid information'

Environmentalists had criticised the use of public money for the purpose.

The process was delayed following a complaint that the research would not address concerns about public health.

Mrs Dodds said officials were progressing the work and she hoped to award the contract in the coming days.

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said assembly members had declared a climate emergency and supported a climate act.

"If there was ever a time when extracting resources from underground, was appropriate that time has long since passed," he said.

But Mrs Dodds said future petroleum licensing policy had to be based on solid information.

She said a revised policy on petroleum licensing would be brought to the executive for a decision before the two licence applications were decided.

Related Topics

  • Fracking in the UK
  • Fracking
  • Northern Ireland Assembly

More on this story

  • Fracking: NI minister Nichola Mallon plans to tighten rules