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Shale fracking banned in Northern Ireland

frackingNorthern Ireland’s environment minister Mark Durkan has banned shale fracking in the strategic planning policy statement (SPPS) for Northern Ireland.

Durkan stated that this would not change unless the Department of the Environment is “satisfied that there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts of fracking.”

He said:

“I have been consistently clear that no fracking will happen on my watch unless there is strong scientific evidence that it is safe for public health and the environment. That evidence simply does not exist at this time.”

“Significantly for the first time, no to fracking is actually enshrined in policy. I believe this is a sensible and reasonable approach,”

The SPPS is sets out policies in the local planning system such as retail development, building in the countryside, creating and enhancing shared space, tourism, telecommunications and housing. This new policy will safeguard the environment amid concerns over water contamination and earthquakes due to shale gas exploration.

Durkan continued:

“Publishing the SPPS unlocks development potential, supports job creation and will aid economic recovery but not at the expense of our planet, environment and people.”

This will be a blow for the UK government who have been implementing new measures to fast-track fracking applications.

Energy secretary, Amber Rudd explained her decision:

“We need more secure, home-grown energy supplies and shale gas must play a part . . . We can’t continue with a system that sees applications dragged out for months, or even years on end which doesn’t give certainty to industry and which could spell the end of a potentially vital national industry.”

We expect that Northern Ireland have made this new veto after proposed fracking was to take place in Fermanagh despite vehement opposition from locals.

The announcement that the government will now allow fracking in sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), home to rare animals and plants has proved equally unpopular.

After the Tories made the decision not to grant new petroleum exploration and development licences (PEDLs) in Scotland and Wales, due to new devolution settlements set out in the Scotland Bill, currently before parliament, and the soon to be introduced Wales Bill, it looks like Northern Ireland are fast putting some regulations into writing so they can follow suit.

It remains to be seen just how long England will stand for unwanted shale gas exploration while the rest of the UK is exempt from fracking.

How long will it take the government to cave in and refocus their attention on developing clean energy without the environmental risks?

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