Renewable energy is the way forward
As someone with a long-standing love of Northern Ireland, I have been deeply disturbed at the news that licences have been granted for the extraction of gas in the west of the province and that the process of hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') is proposed to be used there.
Experience across the world, especially in North America, shows that this process brings with it effects and consequences which are deeply damaging to regional economies, environments and the health and well-being of local communities.
As far as energy availability is concerned, even if the amounts of gas extracted approach the initial estimates, this would not be sufficient to lead to any decrease in consumer gas prices.
By contrast, renewable energy sources are plentiful in the north and would provide clean, local and affordable energy, real, sustainable and skilled jobs and would assist in keeping Northern Ireland's production of greenhouse gases within safe limits.
The extraction of gas, on the other hand, is a very high emitter of such gases. The eyes of the world are upon Northern Ireland.
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