Louth councillor investigates controversial ‘fracking’ process

Film fans in Dundalk may have noticed ‘The Promised Land’ starring Matt Damon showing at the IMC.

Film fans in Dundalk may have noticed ‘The Promised Land’ starring Matt Damon showing at the IMC.

The film tells the story of a oil and gas company who wish buy the drilling rights to a rural town on the east coast of America. The unscrupulous company, lead by Matt Damon, offer the townspeople big bucks for the right to use the controversial ‘fracking’ process.

The concept of the movie is of course that Damon sees the error of his ways, and that the potential environmental damage and damage to the local economy from fracking is simply not worth the money been offered to the community of townsfolk and farmers.

Yet fracking is a more relevant issue to Irish people than you might think. A representative of Louth County Council. Cllr Peter Savage recently attended a meeting in Monaghan, in which experts from the UK explained the process.

The Border Regional Authority met at Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan, which represents local authorities in counties Louth, Monaghan, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, and Donegal last week engaged a British-based team of experts to address public fears about the process, in which water and chemical were injected at huge pressure into the ground.

Opponenets of the process say that fracking can cause serious environmental problems, such as mini earthquakes, water poisioning and in some cases water going on fire.

During the meeting Cllr. Peter Savage said fracking was a process that had implications, but it was claimed it had also had certain values, all of this which was a matter for local authorities to take into consideration.

“I think it is unlikely that fracking is a process that will be used in Louth,” Cllr Savage told the Democrat. “It is was a balanced meeting. The expert addressed both the benefits and the concerns with the process.

“It very much comes down to risk to reward. Currently, with oil still being available, you could argue the risks associated with the process are not currently worth it. But that equation could change when oil production goes into the decline. There’s no doubt that it can be a real resource.”

Yet Cllr Savage says it is a process that is more of a concern to Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan.

“I understand that the rock in Louth is largely granite, whereas shale is the preferred rock for the companies who are look to exploit it.”

Fracking is also being looked and indeed is currently being used in the UK. Fracking work was halted in 2011 after some minor earthquakes near Blackpool were attributed to test wells being drilled by an exploration company.