Fracking: Public email blitz over Arlene Foster ruling
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.
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.