Unclear if second phase of EPA study to go ahead

It’s unclear yet as to whether the second phase of a key study into fracking in Ireland will go ahead.

The first phase of the study commissioned in 2011 by the then Minister for Communications and Natural resources Pat Rabitte was suspended indefinitely in January (2016).

It followed some controversy raised by anti-fracking campaigners including many in Leitrim about the company commissioned to carry out the main body of work on the impact of fracking in Ireland.

CDM Smith won the tender from the EPA in August 2014 to carry out the research into the potential impact of fracking in Ireland.

However anti-fracking campaigners claim that the company has close links with the Fracking industry internationally and therefore had a ‘conflict of interest’ in winning this tender.

The study by was suspended by the Department of Communications in January after just the first phase of work.

In a statement to Ocean FM News this week, the EPA defended claims in a weekend newspaper that CDM Smith has been paid almost a million euro (€900,000) to date for their work.

It states that €1.25m was originally made available by the Departments of Communications and the Environment in the Republic and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for this ‘All-Island study’.

However the statement points out that the overall cost of the Phase 1 work to the CDM Ireland -led consortium, will be less than €900k – but it did not state how much less.

The EPA says a report will now be prepared by the consortium for the work so far.

But the second key phase has yet to start and this would include an assessment of the actual impact of Unconventional Gas and Exploration & Extraction on groundwater.

It’s unclear if and when it will go ahead.