Tourism & Agriculture Bodies Must Outline Position on Fracking - Flanagan
Sinn Féin Energy Spokesperson Phil Flanagan MLA has called on representative bodies for the Tourism and agriculture sectors to set out their position on the controversial method of gas extraction known as ‘Fracking’ and to make submissions to the ongoing all-Ireland draft terms of reference consultation process on the issue.
Mr Flanagan, who is the Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment, was speaking after putting questions to officials from the Tourist Board and the Enterprise Trade and Investment (ETI) Minister, Arlene Foster on whether any discussions had taken place within the Tourist Board on fracking.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA 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.
“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.
“Having listened to both the Tourist Board and the ETI Minister, I have established that the Tourist Board has yet to even discuss the issue and its implications on our tourism sector at any of its meetings, let alone actually adopt a position on it.
“The Tourist Board declared its support of national parks as a driver for the tourism economy very quickly but on the issue of fracking it is conspicuously silent. Where is the voice of tourism when it comes to a matter where the Minister with responsibility for tourism seems to have a preconceived agenda?
“Organisations representative of the farming community such as the Ulster Farmers Union & NIAPA also need to make the positions of their membership on fracking equally 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.
“I have made contact with the above organisations to ask them to put the issue of fracking on their agenda and to formulate a position, which would constitute submissions to the ongoing all-Ireland draft terms of reference consultation for a detailed study into fracking.”