Northern Ireland to ban fracking and onshore oil and gas operations

Mining & Quarrying / Oil & Gas

All onshore petroleum operations, including fracking, are to be banned in Northern Ireland and no new licences will be granted from now on, it was announced on 29th April 2024. 

Conor Murphy, Northern Ireland’s economy minister, told the assembly he would bring forward a proposal to ban all onshore oil and gas exploration and production. Legislation is expected in 2025. But in the meantime, Mr Murphy said his department would not accept or process applications for onshore petroleum licences. 

Mr Murphy said: 

“As climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time, one of the key objectives of my Economic Vision is to reduce carbon emissions. To meet our net zero targets, a priority will be to move away from petroleum to renewables. 

“I intend to ban all forms of onshore petroleum exploration and production –including fracking. This will not only help us transition from fossil fuels to renewables but also towards a greener economy and more sustainable way of life.” 

There are currently no active petroleum licences in Northern Ireland. The last active one was relinquished in 2020. 

The Department for the Economy has the power to grant licences “to explore for, bore for and get” onshore petroleum in Northern Ireland. This power was granted by the Petroleum (Production) Act (Northern Ireland) 1964 and has been supplemented by further legislation since then.