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18 February 2013

Attwood urges public participation in all Ireland Hydraulic Fracturing Consultation

Environment Minister Alex Attwood today encouraged the public to have their say by engaging in an all Ireland Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) Consultation.

The public consultation on the draft Terms of Reference has now been launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of the Programme’s Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee comprises the EPA; Department of Environment Community & Local Government; Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources; the Geological Survey of Ireland; Commission for Energy Regulation and An Bord Pleanála.

Commenting on the public consultation Minister Attwood said: “I have repeatedly said that it is essential to get the science right before any decisions are taken on permitting hydraulic fracturing. This island is such a special place because of its green and clean credentials. That is why my Department is represented on the steering committee for this research programme and is co-funding the research.

“I would therefore encourage all those with an interest in this issue to comment on the draft terms of reference for this cross border research and to take this opportunity to shape the direction of the research programme.

“The environment knows no borders, therefore the outputs from this research programme will assist regulators North and South in their decision making processes. It is therefore essential that people take the time to read and consider this consultation paper and to comment on it.”

“I would encourage interested parties to submit written comments by 8 March 2013. The public consultation will ensure that this programme of research delivers a thorough and robust examination of all Fracking issues.”

A dedicated e-mail address,, has been set up to receive all submissions on the draft terms of reference document.

A sub-group of the Steering Committee will assess all valid submissions and take them into account when finalising terms of reference for the research programme. All valid submissions will be made available upon request.

The Steering Committee expects to commission the programme of research in mid-2013 and intends publishing a number of interim reports while the programme is underway. It is likely that the research programme will take two years to complete. A final report will then be published. The research programme will be co-funded by the EPA, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The consultation document is available on the following link:

Notes to editors:

1. Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction is an emerging issue in the island of Ireland, in particular with regard to the use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technology. Recognising the need for detailed scientific information, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ireland, initially commissioned preliminary desk research which was published in May 2012. This information has been used, along with other sources such as European Commission reports, to assist in a scoping exercise for a more extensive and comprehensive study of the process.

2. It is proposed to award funding for research in three areas:

  • Baseline Characterisation;
  • Fracking Operations, Impacts & Mitigation Measures;
  • Regulatory Framework for Environmental Protection.

3. For media enquiries contact the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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