Fears for Lough Ern

The future of angling at one of Ireland’s most famous venues could be under threat after permission was given to begin a controversial industrial operation that has previously caused countless environmental problems.

For years fishermen have flocked from all over the UK to take advantage of the fantastic sport on offer at Lough Ern,  but that could soon become a thing of the past after a company gained permission to drill for gas using a contentious approach known as ‘fracking’.

Petrochemical firm Tamboran Resources has been given the green light to use the procedure, which involves drilling deep into the lakebed to extract gas, but environmentalists are calling for the operation to be halted due to fears it could pollute the area and lead to large-scale fish deaths.

A number of the world’s best anglers visit the lough regularly, among them top matchmen Bob Nudd, Alan Scotthorne and Mark Pollard. The last-named has just competed in the World Pairs Angling Champs at the venue, and he believes every measure possible needs to be taken to protect the angling at Lough Erne: “It would be devastating to the whole area if any pollution did occur, as the lough is connected to the whole Erne system which is a huge area of water.

“Any pollution would be terrible to not only the anglers who come here for the fantastic fishing but anyone who comes to Ireland as a whole” he said.

Fracking operations around the globe have led to numerous environmental complications in the past, particularly in the US. Local residents and farmers around Lough Erne are understandably worried about the possible side effects of the drilling. No Fracking Ireland, an environmental group against the plans, believes the rcological impacts could far outweigh the financial benefits.

John Cronogue, representing the group said: “It would be an environmental disaster if things go wrong like they have in other parts of the world. If you are an angler that fishes the lough, this might just be your worst nightmare” he added.

However, while many are worried about the effects of the plans, others believe it will bring prosperity to a region currently struggling with the economic crisis. Describing the project as ‘an energy and economic game changer for Northern Ireland’, Richard Moorman, Chief Executive of Tamboran said: “Our initial analysis suggests very substantial shale gas reserves in the southwest Fermanagh area. The energy and economic benefits of abstracting this gas would be tremendous for Northern Ireland” he added.