Updated: 29/10/12 : 13:34:01
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Comiskey welcomes Taoiseach's commitments on Fracking

Senator Michael Comiskey, Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture, Marine and Food has today welcomed a statement by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD in relation to hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). The statement comes in the wake of some mis-informed speculation in relation to supposed comments made by the Taoiseach on a recent visit to the state of Pennsylvania in the USA.

"I have been working with the Taoiseach and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in order to ascertain the true facts in relation to proposals for fracking in Leitrim and the North West over the last number of months and I warmly welcome the recent statement by the Taoiseach in relation to the matter.

"In his recent correspondence the Taoiseach has made it clear that the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, do not permit exploration drilling of any kind at this point in time and do not provide for fracking. Any existing authorisations are called "licensing options" and were granted for a two-year period from 01 March 2011. These licenses allow for work programmes, which are primarily based on desktop studies of existing data. Exploration drilling, including drilling that involves hydraulic fracking is not permitted under these licensing options.

"I am also very pleased that the Taoiseach has clarified that any application for an exploration licence that would involve the proposed use of hydraulic fracturing, would require planning permission and a range of permits for various state bodies including the EPA and The National Parks and Wildlife Service. The application process would also include a consultation phase where the public would be given an opportunity to share their views and concerns.

"These latest assurances from the Taoiseach are very welcome and should go some way to easing the concerns of the public. I would like to assure people that the local representatives and I are continuing to work closely with the Government to ensure that every step is take to protect our heritage and our environment and we have the full support of the Taoiseach in those endeavours."