Over one hundred cyclists took part in the “Tour of the Fracking country” a unique cross border cycle with climbs revealing panoramic views of Fermanagh and Leitrim, on Saturday 14th June. The tour was organised by Lakeland cycling club in Fermanagh in association with Love Leitrim to promote the regions tourism rather than Fracking. But the timing of the cycle has become more critical as Tamboran the company with plans for 3000 wells, accompanying compressor stations and storage ponds in the area, just announced that they are to set the wheels in motion by drilling exploratory wells for core samples in Fermanagh within weeks. The evidence collected could have major impact on facilitating Fracking in Southern Ireland as well as Northern Ireland.
Cyclists climbed hills with views of the lakes whose waters are shared on both sides of the border by these neighbouring counties. Both Lough Melvin and McNean are some of the finest fishing locations for anglers in Europe. Both lakes have also proved popular fresh water swimming locations for children from all communities for generations.
Tourism in Ireland and Northern Ireland is thriving with figures growing. In 2013 there was an increase of 9% in tourism figures in Northern Ireland alone, according to Tourism Ireland (2014)
While fracking is stalled in Southern Ireland as EPA research is being conducted, it is feared that the exploratory drilling process could avoid the requirement for planning permission. Eddie Mitchell Chair of love Leitrim said “It is shocking to think that this destructive process might be started within weeks just across the lake that you can see. People in Northern Ireland should have the means to object, Leitrim councillors voted for a ban in its development plan and we here should have been consulted also”
While communities found out about company plans accidentally he urged people to now make their democratic voices heard. “Our children share the same lakes here, we breath the same air. Todays event shows powerful cross community solidarity. We urge people to contact their politicians on both sides of the border and say, that this destructive development is not done in their name”
“We stand by communities in Northern Ireland in their time of need, We ask people to join their local group, and listen out for events coming up soon to show that we all support tourism initiatives like this not Fracking”
The first photos of the day are here. More to come from our official photographers.
Thanks to Nuala McNulty and Dervilla Keegan for these photographs.
And some more photographs below, all taken by Joe Sheerin, a professional photographer based in Kiltyclogher.