THE chairman of a Fermanagh environmental group has blasted fracking as “the fossil fuel industry’s pension plan”.
Tom White of Belcoo Frack Free was commenting after British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, lifted the ban on fracking in England.
Fracking is the practice of drilling for gas and oil from shale rock. However, fracking has proved to be controversial due to its links with minor earthquakes and the health risks posed to those mining the rocks as well as to residents living near to the mines.
Plans were underway to ban it in the North of Ireland earlier this year only for the Executive’s collapse to prevent such legislation from going through.
Once fracking starts in England, there are concerns Fermanagh – which has been identified as an area primed for fracking – as well as the rest of the North could see drilling take place in the near future.
Tom White said: “The public health impact of fracking is what we’re very concerned with. It’s really a dirty, filthy fossil fuel.
“Proponents of gas say that it’s the cleanest burning fossil fuel. But actually, nobody – until quite recently – has done studies of what burning gas even inside of your house means. And guess what? it’s not very good for you.
“We can either believe the fossil fuel companies – the same ones who told us that climate change was not going to happen – or we can actually believe scientists who have done studies and are not connected to fossil fuel companies. At this stage, I’m just sick of this. We all know the climate is changing due to us burning fossil fuels. We all know that we have to stop doing that but it seems as if fracking is the fossil fuel industry’s pension plan.”
Supporters of fracking say that it would provide fuel given the Ukraine War means that Russian gas exports are not readily available and that mines in Fermanagh would provide a jobs boost.
White disagrees stating that the safety of any workers at the mines would be compromised by the radiation levels they could have to work with.
He added: “It is said ‘would it not be great for jobs if fracking came here?’. Well, a recent report that the Council here had said that fracking wouldn’t be very good for jobs here.
“When you work in the oil and gas industry, you are in effect, a radiation worker. People don’t actually understand that. The reason why guys only spend six months or three months on the (oil and gas) rigs is that’s the maximum amount of radiation that they can be exposed to.
“That’s the reason why on-shore fracking here would be very dangerous. Obviously, if a fracking site is built next to me, I can’t move for three months and get away from that radiation. Plus we’re not a gas-based society here in Fermanagh – in fact we’re not even one in Northern Ireland. Sixty-eight per cent of us rely on oil to heat homes.
“But just remember that the same oil that we burn in our houses is the exact same stuff that is burned in jet engines around the world and guess what? We have to pay at least five per cent VAT on it. People who fly all over the place don’t.
“I’m fed up to the back teeth with the duplicity of politicians who use campaigns to boost their own standing only not to do anything.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition