By John Bromley
Sligo County Council is keeping its ban on fracking in the county as part of its new county development plan.
Councillors unanimously rejected a recommendation from Council CEO Ciaran Hayes at a meeting today, Monday, that the ban be removed.
Last June members backed a proposal from Independent councillor Declan Bree to include a comprehensive ban on hydraulic fracturing or fracking as it is more commonly known.
However, as part of the public consultation process a submission was received from the Director of the Northern & Western Regional Assembly Mr David Minton, stating that such planning policy bans are ultra vires (beyond the council’s power) and accordingly should not be incorporated in the plan.
There was also a submission from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government suggesting that in view of ongoing research and broader legislative amendments a council policy on fracking “may be premature”.
In his report on submissions received, CEO Mr Hayes recommended that the proposed section banning fracking be removed.
The report referred to the Bill before the Dail (proposed by Deputy Tony McLoughlin) calling for the banning of fracking and an EPA report on the subject.
It also pointed out that in the meantime the 2013 moratorium on the licensing of fracking, pending the outcome of the EPA led research, remained in place.
However, at a meeting considering the CEO’s report, Cllr Bree proposed that the ban on fracking be retained in the development plan and councillors unanimously backed this.