SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has welcomed the Assembly’s support for a ban on onshore fracking in the North. Although the second stage of the Onshore Fracking (Prohibition) Bill was agreed on Tuesday it is unlikely to make it into law before the end of the current Assembly term.
Speaking after the debate Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone said, “There is a compelling case for a ban on the issuing of licences for onshore exploration, extraction and production of fossil fuels by fracking here in the North.
“There is more evidence than ever that fracking can have a significant negative impact on the environment and on the health and well-being of nearby populations.
“It is a fact that coughs, shortness of breath and wheezing are the most common complaints of residents living near fracked wells. A study carried out by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the largest research centre into public health in the US if not the world, found a significant association between fracking and chest and related problems, and increases in mild, moderate, and severe cases of asthma.
“It has been well established that there are already high levels of asthma and related chest illnesses around the shores of Lough Neagh – an area which has also been identified as potential target for fracking.
“Despite a previous Assembly motion in 2020 that called for legislation to ban all exploration for, drilling for and extraction of hydrocarbons in the North, the Economy Minister has failed to act.
“It is the Economy Minister’s responsibility to introduce a ban on fracking. Although it is a cross-cutting issue, affecting a number of Departments, it is for his Department to initiate the ban.
“The possibility that a Minister might award a licence in the future will continue to undermine our target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mock efforts to reduce the use of hydrocarbons as an energy source, locally and globally.
“All other administrations across these islands have come to the same conclusion. They have recognised that regulation of fracking is not enough.
“Our young people are demanding a climate reset for the sake of their future. An Executive ban on fracking would be a small step towards convincing them that we are listening, and that we hear them.”