‘Fracking country’ is no joke for residents



TWO residents of ‘fracking country’, an expanse of wild and scenic beauty that stretches from Mullaghdun all the way into County Leitrim, spoke to the Herald of the impact on their lives of the ‘fracking’ threat, and, to a lesser degree, from quarrying operations in the area.

Frank Nugent (69), a retired engineer, lives in Cleggan, home to a local quarry in a delightful bungalow overlooking Lough Melvin. He has lived there for the past 30 years, long after the quarry was there.


Cleggan quarry is currently the subject of dust and noise claims by a local community group.

Mr Nugent was diagnosed with leukaemia some years ago and, while he admits he cannot link it with the quarry, he believes that the underground dislocation that quarrying operations achieve, disturbed underground radon gas.

“The medical people didn’t say”, he told the Herald, but I was asked by a doctor who was there, ‘Do you reside near a quarry?”, and I said ‘yes’.”

His neighbour down the road, Robert Watterson (53) farms in Tonardrum and, like Mr Nugent, he says spring wells on his land have dried up due to water flows being changed from rock blasting.

“I was depending on spring water for my animals. This year I wasn’t so bad because the rain came at the right time, but last year, I was drawing water to cattle for weeks.”

Quarry dust is another problem, and the noise from the blasting.

But, overriding everything is the dread of fracking.


According to Frank Nugent, ‘it’s a totally different scenario’.

“It just leaves a wasteland behind. My house overlooks Lough MacNean and, if they start this fracking, you could forget about it if you were to put it on the market.

“People say gas exploration will bring jobs, but there’s going to be no employment locally, apart from them taking on a few labourers. All the rest will be expert jobs.”

Both men live not far from the anti-fracking campsite which sprouted up when news of a borehole test got out. Permission was denied, pending a proper planning application.

Should the community not have let the test go ahead?, he was asked.

“No, if they found nothing, they could bore somewhere else. There will always be some excuse.”

Robert Watterson was adamant: “I don’t want to see fracking. Definitely not. It has not been proven it’s safe enough. If it’s safe, then that’s a different story, but its safety record globally is not good.”

He had the unusual experience of dialoguing with representatives from Tamboran when they called at his sister’s house to distribute leaflets about the proposed borehole drill.

What did he not like about them?

“It’s their attitude. I asked if they had planning permission to frack. I can’t remember what they said, but it was an answer anyway.

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