Green MLA says ‘Frack Off’ Foster

Following today’s exchange in the Assembly between the Green Party’s Steven Agnew and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster regarding the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on tourism, the North Down MLA has expressed his disappointment at the lack of detail in the Minister’s response.

Mr Agnew said: “I was very disappointed in the Minister’s response to my question on the potential impact of fracking on tourism in Fermanagh.

“Rather than directly answering my question, the Minister resorted to grandstanding and mocking Green Party policies on energy claiming that we want to ‘sit in the dark with a blanket over our heads’.

“It’s quite the contrary and ironic coming from Minister Foster since it would seem that her department are the ones with a ‘head in the sand’ approach to securing fuel security and cheaper energy prices in Northern Ireland.

“This clearly demonstrates that the Minister is not familiar with the Green Party’s progressive approach to addressing Northern Ireland’s energy requirements through the Green New Deal which, if properly invested in, would reduce fuel poverty and create new jobs.

“We also believe in developing and investing in our local renewable energy sector both for our own use and ultimately for export as currently Northern Ireland imports 98 per cent of its energy requirements – that is £2 billion a year literally going up in smoke.

“The rest of the world has recognised that fossil fuels are a finite resource and as stocks diminish prices will continue to spiral upwards. Minister foster need to accept that fossil fuels are for dinosaurs!

“We need to invest in viable alternatives now or we will find ourselves trapped by our dependency on fossil fuels and that is a mistake we will pay heavily for in the future.

“Minister Foster’s response to my question on the impact of fracking on tourism in Fermanagh also shows that she is either unaware or does not care about the legitimate concerns of her own constituents regarding this environmentally damaging practice which has been proved to have caused earthquakes in Blackpool recently.

“Fermanagh is rich in natural resources and much of its economic infrastructure is based on tourism. I am therefore surprised that Minister Foster is so willing to play fast and loose with those resources by backing the practice of fracking in an attempt to extract gas.

“Granting fracking licences to multi-national companies so they can extract gas by pumping chemicals into our water table in Northern Ireland will bring little reward to our economy as the jobs created will be limited. It seems a very high price to pay as it risks our local tourism industry which is already a lucrative revenue stream.

“There is also growing disquiet from residents in Fermanagh who don’t want to see fracking taking place in their area.

“The Minister would do well to listen to legitimate concerns regarding fracking and provide the appropriate detailed and scientific response rather than trying to deflect attention away from what is proving to be a very contentious issue.”

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