FRACKING company, Tamboran, said this week it hoped to be given the go-ahead by the Planning Service to test drill for shale gas in west Fermanagh in 2014.
The company said it remains confident the volume of gas in the Belcoo and Garrison areas and adjoining areas of Leitrim will be of huge benefit in helping to meet Ireland’s energy needs.
It hoped to apply for permission to drill an exploration borehole in the second half of next year, without using the hydraulic fracking method.
A spokesman stated: “The borehole will provide fresh rock samples to compare with surface samples, such as are seen along the coast at Bundoran. It will be a standard exploration borehole to provide rock core for testing.”
The company will then consider whether to proceed to the stage of testing for gas.
Over the past 15 months, Tamboran’s controversial fracking method, using pressurised water to drive out the gas, has been fiercely opposed, locally, on environmental grounds.
Local MLA Phil Flanagan said the recent decision by the British government allowing the resumption of fracking in Lancashire should have no impact on any future decisions in Fermanagh.
He went on: “The decision will be taken by elected representatives here. A much broader analysis of the risks of fracking will need to take place.
“Not only should that look at the potential impact from earthquakes, but also the damage to the landscape, noise, air pollution and the very real risk of groundwater contamination.
“I am confident that once all of these matters are addressed, then the proper decision will be made and proposals to carry out fracking across Ireland will be rejected.”
However, Tamboran said they were ‘especially encouraged’ by the recent response of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineers.
“They state that any risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively as long as best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation. Tamboran plans to only operate to the highest standards.”
Following an Environmental Impact Assessment over a 12-month period on a selected site, Tamboran is hoping, ‘probably in the second half of 2014’, to be making a formal application for planning permission to drill test wells.
The spokesman said the company would work with the regulatory authorities and, as far as possible, with local business and community leaders through all this period.