Posted on Tuesday 12 August 2014 by Ulster Business
Environment minister Mark H Durkan
The Australian company exploring the possibility of drilling for shale gas in Fermanagh has said it is “reconsidering its position” after the environment minister rejected a proposed test drill.
Tamboran Resources said it was “deeply concerned” with the announcement made by Mark H Durkan which turned down the company’s proposed exploration at the Cleggan Quarry near Belcoo.
It was planning to drill to retrieve rock samples at the site under so-called permitted development rights but Mr Durkan said it would need further assessment.
“I have concluded that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply,” he said in a statement.
The move was met with stern words from Tamboran, which has promised considerable investment in Northern Ireland if it’s eventually allowed to extract shale gas by fracking.
“The company is currently reviewing its position and will release a further statement in due course”.
While Tamboran could now apply for full planning permission, Mr Durkan’s accompanying statement left little doubt that it would be an uphill struggle.
“In arriving at this decision I believe I must proceed on the basis of a precautionary principle,” he said. “This principle establishes that a risk exists if it cannot be excluded on the basis of objective information and in the case of doubt as to the absence of significant effects then a full Environmental Assessment should be carried out.”
Tamboran has said a huge shale gas field exists in Fermangh on the border with Co Leitrim. It had plans to invest £6bn into the project which it said would create 600 full-time jobs and remove Northern Ireland’s dependency on imported gas.
However, the plans have met a groundswell of opposition from residents in Fermanagh, as well as some political dissent.