Clare County Council has moved to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" within the county.

The technique is used by oil exploration companies whereby water, sand and certain chemicals are injected at high pressure into a bedrock to extract natural gas.

Fracking has proved controversial in countries where it is carried out, due to alleged negative environmental consequences.

Concern had been raised in Co Clare over the past few months that the practice could be employed in the county as feasibility studies are carried out.

Last night members of the public and campaigners attended Clare County Council's monthly meeting in Ennis to hear a presentation by Dr Aedin McLoughlin, who has campaigned against fracking in counties Leitrim and Roscommon.

Council members unanimously supported a motion to write to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources seeking a total ban on fracking in Ireland.

Councillors also supported a second motion from Green Party councillor Brian Meaney that the County Development Plan would be amended to ban fracking in Clare.

After the meeting, anti-fracking campaigner Roisín Ní Ghairbhíth said that they were delighted with the result.

Ms Ní Ghairbhíth said that Clare is the first county in Ireland to move to amend the County Development Plan to ban fracking.

She added that she hoped other councils and local authorities around the country would do the same.