Even as Westminster wakes up to ‘fracking’, Ireland presses ahead


10:00 am - May 27th 2012

by Guest    


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contribution by Adam McGibbon

As reported in the Independent on Sunday last week, Westminster’s arguments about hydraulic fracturing being the panacea to all our energy problems are now starting to buckle.

While this doesn’t mean fracking won’t happen in England, it does give a serious boost to campaigners who now know they are winning the argument – even against a government who seem hell-bent on scuppering efforts to move to a low-carbon, renewable energy-powered economy.

But despite the good news across the water, here in Northern Ireland, fracking is alive and well and enjoys support from ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive.

Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party minister responsible for energy, is determined to see fracking occur in NI. The scenic areas of Fermanagh, the North Coast and southern Antrim (where Belfast’s water supply largely comes from) have become exploration grounds for shale gas, thanks to Foster’s department (PDF).

It emerged late last year that Foster’s husband owns 56 acres of land in Co. Fermanagh where fracking could take place. Foster did not declare this despite being previously asked in the Assembly if she had any personal interests in fracking.

The Green Party called for Foster to resign over the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. Despite trying to act like the Greens and the media were barking up the wrong tree, the DUP big guns were rolled out to defend the embattled Minister.

First Minister Peter Robinson appeared on the BBC’s Hearts & Minds programme, clearly not entirely au fait with the situation by referring to ‘frackling.’ Foster even used her speech at a DUP conference to declare her interest in gas extraction by noting that she owns land in Brookborough, ANOTHER area of Fermanagh.

This isn’t the first time Foster has appeared to have these conflicts of interest either. In 2007, as Minister for the Environment, she was caught up in another row over scrapping a proposal for a visitor’s centre at the Giant’s Causeway and approving another proposal from Seymour Sweeney, a property developer and member of the DUP.

Despite all this controversy, it rumbles on. Communities are organising across the province against fracking. A motion in the Assembly condemning fracking was narrowly passed despite the DUP’s objections. Northern Ireland continues to neglect its huge potential for renewable energy, and the DUP dismisses fracking opponents as unconcerned about ‘keeping the lights on.’

The DUP are more anti-science than the Conservatives could ever be. In a country where donations to political parties are kept secret (for security reasons, allegedly) and where 104 out of 108 Assembly members are in government, accountability is worryingly scarce.

It’s hard to see how the desperate, inane, ‘It’s Our Time’ campaign by the NI Tourist Board squares with attempts to destroy our most scenic countryside. This is a rare occasion where maybe, just maybe, you’d rather have direct rule ministers in charge.

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Reader comments


It’s not just the size of UK reserves – the idea that shale gas has been responsible for lower gas prices in the USA is now in serious doubt (remember that a lot of the enthusiasm for it among the right-wing in the UK came from a piece in The Register that was authored not by a geologist, an economist or an engineer, but an industry *lawyer*).

The situation in the USA may have rather more to do with over-supply and the need for suppliers to keep the cash flow going. I linked to a couple of sources in this post:

http://zelo.tv/JBVnm8

Which was otherwise pouring cold water on the latest Delingpole rantfest on the subject.

Well done Mr. Fenton!

“the idea that shale gas has been responsible for lower gas prices in the USA is now in serious doubt ”

“The situation in the USA may have rather more to do with over-supply”

Umm, supplies rise, prices fall. Yes, that’s pretty standard economics. Shale has been increasing supply, prices have fallen. This invalidates the idea that shale has been lowering prices how?

Arlene Foster

Why on earth would she be in politics if it wasn’t to pursue wealth through power and privelige?
Do ‘Assembly Members’ have access to expenses?
Pah! another day, another………………………………….

4. Northern Worker

” ….. a government who seem hell-bent on scuppering efforts to move to a low-carbon, renewable energy-powered economy.”

Hang on, the coalition has just published its energy policy and fracking hardly gets a mention. Just the opposite the government seems “hell bent” on wrecking our energy supply and wrecking our economy while enriching already wealthy people with windmills.

I have to admit bias. I’ve worked in engineering and I like heavy industries, which employ people in good, well-paid jobs. So expensive energy, or even a lack of energy (blackouts and brownouts), which mean jobs exported to China and India, really upsets me. I’m also biased in that I was brought up in the NW of England, where we really do need well-paid jobs. Fracking would bring these jobs to the NW and related industries.

If it’s up to the Tories we’ll end up sitting in the dark while China and India take what remains of our industries. We can’t make a living in this world by cutting each other’s hair. So I’m all for fracking and cheap energy.

As for the shenanigans in N Ireland, what do you expect of politicians. The present generation are just in it for what they can make.

I wonder how many people opposed to fracking think that coal mining was a great idea.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Even as Westminster wakes up to 'fracking', Ireland presses ahead http://t.co/QQOr67bi

  2. Jason Brickley

    Even as Westminster wakes up to ‘fracking’, Ireland presses ahead http://t.co/gfHpXpWL

  3. Mr Creek

    Even as Westminster wakes up to 'fracking', Ireland presses ahead http://t.co/QQOr67bi

  4. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Even as Westminster wakes up to ‘fracking’, Ireland presses ahead http://t.co/KSaUKIS4

  5. BevR

    Even as Westminster wakes up to ‘fracking’, Ireland presses ahead | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PkCAnAgA via @libcon

  6. Adam McGibbon

    Even as Westminster backtracks on hydraulic fracturing, Stormont presses on | by me on @Libcon : http://t.co/xegSJNLy #fb

  7. Lorcan Mullen

    Even as Westminster backtracks on hydraulic fracturing, Stormont presses on | by me on @Libcon : http://t.co/xegSJNLy #fb

  8. Damien Edgar

    Even as Westminster backtracks on hydraulic fracturing, Stormont presses on | by me on @Libcon : http://t.co/xegSJNLy #fb

  9. Janet Graham

    Even as Westminster wakes up to 'fracking', Ireland presses ahead http://t.co/QQOr67bi

  10. BevR

    Even as Westminster wakes up to ‘fracking’, Ireland presses ahead | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PkCAnAgA via @libcon

  11. Mark Smithson

    Even as Westminster wakes up to ‘fracking’, Ireland presses ahead | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PkCAnAgA via @libcon





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