Fears that Tory triumph could put fracking back on agenda

Marty McNamee and Noel Phair made their way to Belcoo from Newtownbutler for the protests against fracking last year

Marty McNamee and Noel Phair made their way to Belcoo from Newtownbutler for the protests against fracking last year

AN anti-fracking group in Fermanagh say they are not worried by comments made by the British energy secretary who claimed the government would kick-start of “shale gas revolution”.

During an interview with a Sunday newspaper, the British energy secretary, Amber Rudd, confirmed that the Tory government would loosen the current rules so gas could be extracted.


She said that the Conservative majority government would be able to press ahead with shale gas extraction.

Ms Rudd suggested the government would look again at the compensation for communities affected by fracking, which are currently expected to get an average £380,000 for each well.

Thomas McCaffrey, who is the chair of FFAN (Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network), an anti-fracking group, said: “I find Amber Rudd’s comments strange that on one hand she is granting communities a veto over onshore wind while on the other hand removing communities say in UGEE (Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction).

“From my understanding UGEE is a devolved matter to the Northern Ireland Assembly and as such will be decided there.

“While Fermanagh is currently open for a new license to explore, the ongoing judicial review proceedings by Tamboran against DOE (Department of Environment) and DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment) will likely delay any issuing of a new license.”

Ms Rudd told the Sunday Times that while her predecessor, Ed Davey, “was committed to shale,” he “struggled to bring some members of his party with him.

She said: “Quite a number of them appeared to be completely anti-shale. With a Conservative majority I believe we will be able to deliver shale, as we’ve always wanted to do, in a safe but beneficial way.”


However local MLA, Phil Flanagan, dismissed these claims would impact on fracking in Fermanagh saying that this party would use their veto in Stormont to block any fracking proposals.

He said: “I’d like to know how many leading cabinet ministers are funded by fracking companies or their lobbyist, how many direct family members do they have that work in these companies but I’ll not pay too much heed to anything the Tory government says about fracking.

“They have no mandate in Ireland and any thoughts they have on issue were rejected by the people here. Any decisions on whether fracking will go ahead will be made in Stormont and in Dublin.

“Sinn Fein will use their veto in Stormont to block it so the Tories can say what they want about fracking but Sinn Fein have the ability and we will stop it ever taking place here.

“Tom Elliott going to Westminster will become increasingly irrelevant to the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone because all of the key decisions made about the people I represent are made in Stormont including the health service, education, roads and public transport and unemployment.

“Whatever decision he adopts will have little bearing on the local people because it’s a decision taken in Stormont.”

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