|Northern Ireland Assembly members have called for a freeze on gas exploration in Fermanagh to avoid the consequences of fracking.A Green Party and Alliance Party motion against the potential use of hydraulic fracturing, which pumps water into the ground to release shale gas, was passed with the support of Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
But predictably the DUP rolled in behind its Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster. Mrs Foster said it was correct to pursue the possibility of identifying a source of locally obtainable fuel, but Green MLA Steven Agnew said there was no guarantee Northern Ireland would benefit from such a find, which he said he opposed anyway, urging emphasis on alternatives to fossil fuels.
Stephen Agnew presented the Assembly with a petition of more than 2,800 signatures ahead of the debate on fracking. He said groups of worried residents had travelled from as far as Fermanagh and Sligo, with areas of both the north and south of Ireland affected by potential fracking operations.
Mr Agnew said fears over environmental damage and health concerns had seen the process halted in parts of the US, Germany, South Africa and France.
Assembly members cited tremors in an area of the north of England where fracking was being employed.
He said: “The people of Northern Ireland need a full review of this decision and a ban on this process. This process could severely impact our tourism industry, agriculture, our water quality, environment and our health.”
Where does this leave Carwyn Jones’ Labour administration in Cardiff Bay? Looking like King Canute in the face of the tide of concern and opposition to fracking. He needs to grasp the nettle and take an historic opportunity for the Welsh Government to make a telling impact on UK policy for a change, and unite with his Conservative rival Andrew RT Davies in calling for a moratorium on fracking related activity in Wales.