Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has rejected Tamboran’s proposals for exploratory drilling under permitted development rights.

Minister Durkan stated: "I have given very careful consideration to Tamboran’s proposal to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry near Belcoo and whether this is permitted development under current legislation. I have concluded that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply. In making this assessment I have been mindful of my Department’s responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times and that full consideration is give to any likely significant environmental impacts of such a proposal.

"I have concerns that this is an existing quarry where unauthorised extraction has taken place. I believe there is insufficient information to establish what environmental impacts may have already arisen as a result of these unauthorised activities. Therefore, it is not possible to assess the environmental impact of the drilling cumulatively with other unknown environmental impacts of unregulated activity.

"In arriving at this decision I believe I must proceed on the basis of a precautionary principle. This principle establishes that a risk exists if it cannot be excluded on the basis of objective information and in the case of doubt as to the absence of significant effects then a full Environmental Assessment should be carried out. I have therefore concluded this is EIA development requiring full planning permission with an accompanying Environmental Statement and current permitted development rights do not apply."

Australian exploration company Tamboran arrived in Belcoo on Monday, July 21 stating its intention to drill an exploratory borehole to test for shale gas.

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan met concerned anti-fracking groups last Thursday in Enniskillen and heard concerns aout existing planning permission on the Belcoo site, owned by Acheson and Glover.

Welcoming the news, Fermanagh Fracking Awareness (FFAN) Chair Thomas McCaffrey said they were "pleased to learn that our Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has asked for a full planning application for the Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction project in Belcoo."

He was part of the delegation that recently met the Minister. He reveals: "It was impressed upon him the fears and opinions of the local people.

"To his credit the SDLP minister has chosen to listen to the will of local people."

FFAN also want to ensure that any proposed exploartion or extraction works at Belcoo be subject to a full Health Impact Assessment as well as an Environmental Impact Assessment.