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Gasland: Minister's frack film criticism 'out of order'

Open letter to DETI minister, Arlene Foster.

I write to you in response to your reaction to the Co-operative's screening of Gasland at Black Box in Belfast on April 29 and my disappointment at reading that you felt strongly enough about the matter to chastise the Co-operative for promoting it.

It is difficult for you to blast the event as one-sided when you declined to attend. Similarly, it was difficult for Josh Fox to make a 'balanced' film when fracking companies refused to partake in the film-making process.

I attended the screening at Black Box and felt that it was presented very professionally.

Whilst the film was screened, at no point did the Co-operative state that it presents a balanced argument or that we should use its content as the basis for a decision on fracking in Northern Ireland.

Rather, it provided food for thought and people were left to draw their own conclusions. This was enriched by the speakers who attended and spoke on a number of topics.

Those present were encouraged to talk and think about all the potential impacts fracking could have. Certainly at the table where I was seated, we discussed the toss up between energy security, money and economic development against the considerable investment and infrastructure that will be needed and the potential risks involved.

As a resident of Fermanagh, I feel this is certainly more ethical than what Tamboran and your department have granted us. Since their public information evening in September 2011, Tamboran have not engaged with the local community at all. Similarly, both Fermanagh District Council and the Assembly have voted in favour of a moratorium on fracking and yet, six months later, it has still not been granted.

If you really feel that balance needs to be brought to the issue, as you are quoted as saying by the BBC, I urge you to place a moratorium on fracking and any exploratory work until all the stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of Fermanagh have been presented with an opportunity to hear the facts and be subsequently consulted on the best decision for both Fermanagh and Northern Ireland.

Fiona Leary

Co Fermanagh