We all need to step back – Belfast Telegraph

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Comment by the newsdesk of FFI:

A journalist is supposed to know the facts and inform the public accordingly. Fact is that so far as I know  no results of the investigation regarding petrol bombing are published. So, wait to blame the protectors (Not protesters). Fact is that Tamboran has an exploraty licence and applied for ‘fact finding’ = test drilling under permitted development rights. The minister decided that – this type of development  is likely to have significant effects on the environment- and so Tamboran Resources (please note there are various companies with the name Tamboran Resources: Tamboran Resources Ltd, Tamboran Resources (UK) Ltd., Tamboran Resources PRY Ltd ) need to apply for planning permission and an Environmental Impact Assessment should be carried out. More over it contravenes at least two of the three pillars of the international Aarhus Convention—access to information, public participation and access to justice.There are more facts that should be mentioned. More facts and articles on this website. Minister Durkan is a wise and brave politician as it should be in a democratic society.
By Mark Brotherston – 14 August 2014
Wow, the debate over fracking has got hot and heavy lately.

We had protesters attacking the home of a security guard, who works for a company interested in extracting shale gas in County Fermanagh. We had an environment minister telling potential frackers to “frack off” in a Belfast Telegraph article.

We even had an ecumenical service to ‘give thanks’ for Tamboran Resources being denied permission to sink a bore hole, to explore the possibility of fracking in Fermanagh.

A lot of people need to step back, calm down and let’s all have a rational discussion about the benefits of shale gas. Let’s also consider carefully any dangers which its extraction might entail and, even more fundamentally, whether there’s potential to frack in Northern Ireland in the first place.

Shale gas has revolutionised the energy market in the United States, Canada and Australia. Americans now pay 50% less, on average, for energy than people in Northern Ireland. They’ve also been able to half their carbon emissions, because the gas is cleaner than traditional fossil fuels. Then there’s the number of jobs fracking could create, its benefits to industry and the potential boost for Northern Ireland’s economy.

Environmentalists claim that shale gas extraction could cause earth tremors and pollute groundwater, but they’ve not produced a lot of evidence to support their theories.

Respected scientific bodies like the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineers, Public Health England and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change all believe fracking is safe.

Of course, we need to make absolutely sure that we have all the available facts about our supply of shale gas.  We also need to make sure that its extraction can only take place if it is safe and the environmental impact is minimal.  That important discussion is not going to happen if the environment minister will not even grant permission for companies to explore the potential to frack in Northern Ireland.

People here deserve more leadership from their politicians. They deserve ministers who are prepared to step back from hysteria, take a sober look at facts and reach difficult decisions.

In the case of fracking, that means assembling all the available information, assessing evidence from experts and reaching a sensible verdict, which is in the best interests of the economy, as well as our natural environment, rather than parroting a childish slogan like ‘frack off’.