Minister must halt compromised North-South fracking study

Unconventional Gas research consortium being led by 'industry-cheerleader' consultants

Group writes to Mark H Durkan to demand action to address conflict of interest

Belcoo Frack Free chairperson, Tom White, spoke of his group's concerns over the all-island research programme into unconventional gas or fracking and demanded immediate action by the Environment Minister and local political leaders:

"Minister Mark H Durkan has stressed his satisfaction with the processes and procedures associated with the all-island UGEE (Unconventional Gas Exploration & Extraction) study which is being currently undertaken on a cross-border basis. This study will be hugely influential in whether fracking proceeds in Ireland over the next few years.

"Local campaigners have been highly critical of the exclusion of any health-assessment within this study as well as its narrow terms of reference but we are highly shocked that the consortium contracted to produce this study will be led by CDM Smith a known cheer-leader for this industry.

"CDM Smith publicly attempted to airbrush the peer-reviewed public health research which underpinned New York state's fracking ban, describing the decision as being “based on emotion and not necessarily science”.  The same company was an associate member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition which funded academic research that backed the safety of fracking which was widely criticised for its poor academic quality, the research programme subsequently had to be discontinued due to a boycott by academics.

"The company has also openly promoted its role as being at the forefront of the Shale Gas Industry in Poland and Ukraine. Indeed, they sponsored the Shale Gas World Europe event in November 2013, faciliating Tamboran to speak and promote their Irish fracking project.

"The fear of a likely conflict of interest is further exacerbated by the fact that Tamboran, CDM Smith and CDM Smith Ireland were all listed as attendees at the Unconventional Oil and Gas Summit in London in June 2014; the very time when Tamboran were about to launch themselves on the community in Fermanagh.

"Belcoo Frack Free has written to the Minister to request that this flawed research be stopped immediately. Instead, we are asking that the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer review the existing peer-reviewed scientific literature on the risks associated with fracking. Belcoo Frack Free is confident that the peer-reviewed health science leads irrevocably to only one conclusion; namely, the prohibition of this poisonous industry",
Mr White concluded.