This involves fracturing rock using water at extreme pressures. The technique is believed to have caused small earthquakes in Lancashire last year. Chemicals used in the process can also make their way into the water supply, threatening public health. This is demonstrated in the film “Gaslands”, where residents in an area of the USA where fracking was taking place could set their taps alight!
But the politicians who will decide whether fracking goes ahead don’t seem too concerned. Southern Environment Minister Phil Hogan described “Gaslands” as a “horror film”, while Stormont Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has dismissed concerns over fracking’s safety as “scaremongering”. She is more inclined to listen to the reassurances of Tamboran’s CEO. Perhaps that could be connected to the 54-acre site her husband owns in west Fermanagh which could rocket in value if exploration takes place! These politicians are determined to hand over our natural resources to be exploited by big business for a profit, even if it means putting people’s lives at risk.
The people of the areas affected aren’t simply going to allow their environment to be fracked with, however. Campaigners have taken the fight to the politicians, organising numerous protests. On 6 December, the Campaign Against Fracking handed over a petition opposing the practise with thousands of signatures to the Green Party’s Steven Agnew, before his private member’s bill against fracking was put before the Assembly. Under pressure from the people of the area, only the DUP were brazen enough to vote against the motion.
However, the decision whether to grant Tamboran the licence they require still rests with Arlene Foster and the Assembly Executive. Experience demonstrates that the Executive parties cannot be trusted and could easily change their position if it suits the interests of “enterprise”, i.e. big business. If fracking is allowed to go ahead, it will be necessary to develop opposition further, including by using direct action to disrupt the destruction of our environment.