Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Fracking: Public email blitz over Arlene Foster ruling

Engineers at work on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Lancashire
Engineers at work on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Lancashire

Hundreds of members of the public have emailed MLAs calling for a ban on fracking in the past 48 hours, according to the Green Party.

Greens leader Steven Agnew has now called on Assembly parties to sign a petition referring a controversial fracking decision by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster to the Executive.

The minister has come under fire after a decision to granted a six-month licensing extension to a company which hopes to carry out fracking in Co Fermanagh.

The extension to Tamboran Resource's licence will give the company further time to decide whether to proceed with its plans to drill in the area.

Earlier this week, Sinn Fein energy spokesman Phil Flanagan said he was seeking legal advice as to whether or not the decision lay outside DETI's remit and if it should have been referred to the Executive for consideration.

"In allowing this extension to happen, DETI has shown total disregard for the will of the Assembly, which voted for a moratorium on fracking in December 2011," he said.

"It is my view that she may have breached the Ministerial Code of Office when her department allowed this extension," he said.

Mr Agnew said Tamboran had failed to meet the commitment in its exploration licence to drill by March 31.

"Despite this first failure by Tamboran to meet its commitments, which in my opinion does not bode well for any agreements made with this company, DETI Minister Foster quietly granted them an extension to their licence," he said.

"This happened despite Minister Foster previously assuring the DETI committee that we would be informed of any developments in relation to these fracking licences.

"Instead, she made a 'below the radar' decision to extend Tamboran's licence without consulting the Executive.

"The amount of emails received by MLAs in the last 48 hours shows the level of public anger and concern around this issue and the minister should not ignore either the will of the citizens of Northern Ireland nor the will of the Assembly.

"I have called on all members of the Assembly to sign a petition which would bring this issue before the Executive so the electorate can finally have some clarity on where every party stands in relation to fracking in Northern Ireland."

He added: "With the signatures of 30 MLAs, controversial ministerial decisions can be referred to the Northern Ireland Executive where they would be subject to the cross-community decision making procedure."

DETI did not issue a comment.

FACTFILE

Shale gas is a form of 'unconventional gas' which is extracted from shale rock formations, usually located at depths of 1,000 to 4,000 metres.

Tamboran has said it is likely to need up to 60 multi wellpads with up to 24 wells per pad. Each multi wellpad would be 2.6 hectares, with about 150 hectares needed.

There would probably be 40,000 acres of underground development and three layers of horizontal drilling involved in the project.

Further reading

Ohio earthquakes linked to fracking

We'll win on fracking, say Greens

Fracking good for UK - Cameron

Don't block fracking, Cameron warns 

Fracking 'can weaken Russia grip' 

Fracking: DUP clash as debate gets heated

Flood concern raised over fracking 

Leitrim councillors ban fracking

Fracking 'will bring prosperity' 

Friends of the Earth warn over fracking in Northern Ireland

Letter: Flooding raises threat levels around fracking

Council seeks a ban on fracking

Stormont row on the cards over fracking in Northern Ireland

Caroline Lucas: Why I risked arrest to protest against fracking

George Osborne slashes taxes on fracking profits

Fracking 'could hit Fermanagh's fish stocks'

Blackpool earthquakes 'were due to fracking'

Fracking could unleash a host of new horrors

Fracking criticised over pollution and health risks

Poisoning link threatens future of fracking

Gas fracking company: We caused 50 tremors in England – but we're not going to stop

'Fracking' blamed for UK quakes

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz