18th December

Red light given to EC's green light for fracking

Three hundred civil society groups from across Europe have voiced concerns over proposals by the European Commission to issue 'non-binding' guidance for the shale gas industry.

An 'open letter'critises the Commission's proposals which is states paves the way for shale gas exploration. The EU executive body is to announce its plans on Wednesday as part of its 2030 Climate and Energy Package.

A natural gas fracking well near Shreveport, Louisiana. Photo Daniel Foster

A natural gas fracking well near Shreveport, Louisiana. Photo Daniel Foster

'Pressure from the fossil fuel lobby, as well as from Member States with the UK playing a leading role, has resulted in the Commission making a u-turn from its previous course to deliver binding legislative prposals, initially favoured by Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik in October,' a statement by Oisín Coghlan, Friends of the Earth reads. 

Read more: Red light given to EC's green light for fracking

Environmental democracy is still a long way off

"The Irish public are unlikely to accept that their rights to access information, to participate in decision-making and of access to justice regarding the environment are being delivered, according to the Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 27 national environemntal NGOs. 

But that is what they are being told in the government's Aarhus Convention National Implementation Report under which it is supposed to vindicate those rights, says spokesperson, David Healy.

Lough-Dan

Lough Dan, Co Wicklow. 'Public involvement in environmental decision making is being largely ignored'. Photo Gillian Mills

"A great deal of effort by the Department of Environment was put into trying to bring legislation and practice into line with the Convention prior to its ratification by Ireland in 2012, however there are still huge gaps in its implementation," he adds.

Read more: Environmental democracy is still a long way off

2014 regulations and bye-laws for the management of the wild salmon fishery

Eighty-seven rivers will open for angling activity from January 1 of which fifty-seven will be fully open while a further 30 will be open on a ‘catch & release’ basis. A further fifty-six rivers are closed as they have no surplus of fish available for harvest.

Announcing the details of the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme Regulations for 2014, Fergus O’Dowd, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources remarked that the cost of fishing licences which was lowered in 2012 would be maintained.

Bundorragha-River, Connemara which opens for angling activity from January 1. Photo Gillian Mills

Bundorragha-River, Connemara which opens for angling activity from January 1. Photo Gillian Mills

“I am anxious that lower costs will encourage sales of annual licences and incentivise angling tourists to avail of the Ireland’s first-class angling product,” he added.

Read more: 2014 regulations and bye-laws for the management of the wild salmon fishery

National groundwater protection map identifies hotspots

A comprehensive groundwater mapping project has produced a national 'vulnerability' map to help protect vital water supplies. The map identifies areas most at risk from pollution or contamination and conversely those areas safest to develop wells and water supplies.

These and other findings from the Geological Survey of Ireland's (GSI) multiannual programme were announced today at Geoscience 2013 conference.

Map shows groundwater vulnerability where water supply needs most protectionSpeaking at Dublin Castle, Fergus O'Dowd, minister for natural resources, commended the "world-class" science and the many inter-agency partnerships that underpinned the projects. 

Read more: National groundwater protection map identifies hotspots

Irish salmon: the questions that must be asked

Philip Clesham Natural scientist, commercial lawyer and keen angler

Ireland has unique inshore assets that must be managed in an enduring and sustainable way for the maximum benefit of as many people as possible. But for too long we have looked to other countries and have asked: ‘Why can’t we have what they have?’ Instead, perhaps Ireland should be asking: ‘What has Ireland got that other countries don’t have?’

So, it is refreshing to see that the proposed mega-scale caged salmon farm in Galway Bay has awoken a debate that focuses on our own unique inshore assets, in a serious way. When contemplating this development, it might be prudent however to first ask some questions and look for answers before making a decision: 

Maam RiverThe Maam River - one of Lough Corrib's head streams                                                 Photo Gillian Mills

How can Ireland be a leader and develop its unique assets by means of product differentiation from other competing countries to ensure an enduring and sustainable gain for as many people as possible?

Will intensive salmon farming in Galway Bay operate in a sustainable and enduring way for the maximum benefit of all, and should Ireland first look at alternatives before committing to a mega-scale caged salmon farm strategy?

Read more: Irish salmon: the questions that must be asked

Flooding and fracking don’t mix

Sian Cowman

Even though it was a few years ago now, you probably remember the 2009 flooding across the country? It’s not often we get floods that fierce; although of course in a watery country like Ireland, minor flooding is a pretty regular occurrence. Colorado got some bad flooding this September - 17.15 inches of rain fell in the Boulder region over a few days, in what is being called a ‘thousand-year’ flood.

To complicate matters, Colorado has 50,000 oil and gas wells, and the Boulder area is one of the most intensely exploited in the State, with more than more than 20,000 wells. The State’s well inspectors are scrambling to assess the flood damage. As you may know, Ireland is currently considering whether to allow the practice of ‘fracking’ to exploit shale gas, which would involve drilling wells on land, like in Colorado.

Flooding at Carrick-on-Shannon 2009

Flooding at Carrck-on-Shannon 2009

Fracking is a process whereby fluid is injected into shale rock at high pressure to create small fractures where gas trapped in the rock can flow out. The terminology can be misleading, as there are different types of hydraulic fracturing. It is often said that it is a technology that’s been around for 60 years. But the process of high-volume slick water horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) that is being proposed in Ireland is a different type than the older vertical fracking. Only since the 90s has fracking evolved into the new creature of HVHF.

Read more: Flooding and fracking don’t mix

Spread the News

Irish world medalists row in behind water safety a...

Approaching the last bank holiday weekend in 2017, Irish Water Safety reports twenty-seven fewer dro [ ... ]

Government must expedite process to enable public ...

The Environmental Pillar coalition of 26 national organisations has welcomed the comments of the new [ ... ]

Deterioration in ‘pristine’ status of Irish wa...

Ireland has failed to meet a planned national target of 13% improvement in water status and has fail [ ... ]

Water Footprint Network files for bankruptcy

The WFN Foundation has filed for bankruptcy and expects to go into receivership in early September,  [ ... ]

Irish world medalists row in behind water safety awareness campaign
Government must expedite process to enable public access to justice for environmental cases
Deterioration in ‘pristine’ status of Irish waters
Water Footprint Network files for bankruptcy