Anti-fracking legislation has passed the first stage in the Dáil

US actor Mark Ruffalo among environmental activists to have called on Ireland to back bill


Anti-fracking campaigner Andy Dunn protests outside the Dáil | File photo:

Laws that would ban fracking have passed their first stage in the Dáil.

The Cabinet had decided on Tuesday to delay a bill from Fine Gael backbencher Tony McLoughlin pending the publication of an independent report.

However, a U-turn happened this morning when Fianna Fáil said it would not support the deferral. 

The legislation will now go to an Oireachtas committee, which has been urged to examine the independent report when it is published next month before progressing the laws any further.

The Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill proposes banning hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - for shale oil and gas.

The method is considered dangerous by some as it relies on high-pressure water to fracture rocks which contain deposits.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of carrying out a 24-month research programme on the process, looking at potential impacts on the environment and human health.

Deputy McLoughlin’s constituency forms part of the region that has been identified as having the most potential for fracking.

The bill has been welcomed by environmental advocates, with Friends of the Earth calling it "the first test of Ireland's commitment to take action to prevent climate change".

US actor Mark Ruffalo also called on the government to back the proposed legislation, writing on Instagram: "Ireland should ban #fracking to protect public health & the environment, like New York did after finding serious risks & harms."


A photo posted by Mark Ruffalo (@markruffalo) on