Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Industry and the Shale Gas Question
- AgriFood is vitally important for our economy and is a source of major employment, with 110,000 (directly and indirectly) employed and exports of €8.9Bn, using 90% of the output of our 120,000 farmers .
- There is widespread optimism about prospects for major expansion, driven by growing world demand, making a significant contribution to our economic recovery, and tens of thousands of new jobs, in the coming years.
- As previous food scares testify, we are very dependent on our clean, green and safe food image to retain and expand market share. ”Our raw materials are not just milk fractions, they are also reflective of the quality, food safety ethos and regulatory environment of the supply country. Our brand is built on trust and we cannot afford a first mistake”. There is concern that shale gas hydraulic fracturing could have a negative effect on the Industry’s reputation.
- Tourism is also major, with 178,000 employed.
- Peer-reviewed independent research into shale gas’s environmental effects suggests there is insufficient data upon which to base a decision. The US EPA is prohibited from gathering vital data due legal exemptions etc. Independent scientific research and EPA records conflict with Industry assurances.
- A 5% drop in export earnings in food and tourism industries would cost €20.5 billion over 35 years with 14,500 current jobs lost.
- Even before we consider the view of the British Geological Survey that recoverable shale gas in Lancashire is less than 1/400th of Quadrilla’s claim, Tamboran’s estimated tax take averages “up to” €140million per annum over 35 years, possibly insufficient to cover effective regulation, road repairs, legal costs and social costs.
- The energy from shale gas is temporary, relatively insignificant, and may not compare with the potential economic damage. And it simply postpones the inevitable move to alternatives, it does not replace anything.
- Our food and tourism earnings are permanent and potentially massive, and in terms of purchasing power (to buy energy) represent greater energy security than shale gas can promise.
- Canada was assured of safe shale gas extraction, “the best regulatory regime in the world”, yet now the National Farmers Union there has called for a moratorium after land and water contamination.
- We must wait as long as it takes. The burden of proof (re. safety) lies with the gas industry. The shale gas will still be there in 20 years.
See also Conclusions section of full report >>