Calls have been made for public bodies to state clearly what their positions on fracking are and to make submissions to the all-Ireland draft terms of reference consultation process on the issue.
Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA Phil Flanagan, Sinn Fein’s spokesperson on energy, said, “For too long, the debate about fracking has centred on questionable claims of job creation, but we have yet to hear from the representative bodies of those in the tourism and agriculture sectors that could lose the most if this controversial method of gas extraction were to proceed.”
Mr Flanagan added, “Along with many other people, I have deeply held concerns about the negative impact that fracking would have on these sectors, as well as on our general environment. It is incumbent on those tasked with promoting and protecting two of our most important economic drivers - tourism and agriculture- to make their position on this issue clear.”
“The membership bodies of both sectors need to debate the issue of fracking internally by looking at all of the information and evidence available and agree upon a position on it.
Another area of concern raised this week in relation to fracking was expressed by Terry MacDermott on behalf of the Impact Research Group who in a statement issued to the Leitrim Observer expressed the groups misgivings about what was described as “The very limited scope and narrow focus of the proposed terms of reference for the EPA’s forthcoming research on hydraulic fracturing.”
Mr MacDermott added, “There is no proposed research project dedicated to public health. Indeed, with so much concern about health impacts, it is also very strange that there is no Public Health Official on the Minister’s Steering Group overseeing the research process. This needs to be remedied forthwith.”
Ahead of the deadline for submissions to be made to the EPA Mr MacDermott said, “As an independent group we fully support any individuals or groups who wish to make submissions to the EPA by the March 8 deadline. The public may find useful information on another group’s site goodenergiesalliance.com which has a discussion forum on this subject. We also respect the wishes of those who decline to make submissions. There is room for divergent views.”
Award winning scientist Jessica Ernst, who has 30 years experience of the oil and gas industy, and is currently suing the Alberta Government will visit Leitrim Village Community Centre on Saturday, March 2 at 7pm as part of a nationwide tour. This is a rare opportunity to hear from someone who has lived on both sides of this issue describe their experiences on the fracking frontline. She will discuss her own case, the impact of this industry upon her own community and why she believes no healthy society should ever permit hydraulic fracturing.