Fracking petition, debate and a cry of ‘liars and thieves’

A delegation of concerned residents – accompanied by the Grim Reaper – travelled to Stormont this morning to present a petition of over 2800 signatures opposed to ‘fracking’ ahead of Green Party MLA Steven Agnew’s motion proposing a moratorium in Northern Ireland on the gas drilling process.

No Fracking petition outside Parliament Buildings

Update – Members of the Assembly backed a call for a moratorium on onshore and offshore exploration and the withdrawal of licences by 49 votes to 30, though the BBC notes that “Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the motion was flawed as no licences for fracking had been issued”.

In other news – and unconnected with the fracking – a heckle of

liars and thieves

from the public gallery caused a brief suspension of Assembly business while the guilty party – associated with the Occupy Belfast group – was “removed by three security menand arrested but “not held in custody“.

Occupy Belfast facebook post about NI Assembly heckled protect

(quite a debate building up on Occupy Belfast’s Facebook thread)

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  • iluvni

    Rarely I have much time for DUP politicians, but Simon Hamilton has just made a rather sensible speech. Good for him.

  • Cynic2

    2800 signatures. Wow. That will change the world.

    Some of them look as though they are more afraid that the fracking process will wake Godzilla in his cave causing him to burst out, ravage Ballinaleck and improve the look of Lisnaskea by using it for his ablutions

    But there is a genuine political debate here. Now let me see. We are on the edge of a great economic depression. There is a potentially very good source of cheap energy under the bogs of Fermanagh that can be recovered with minimal risk. Do I want to frack it? Too fracking right I do

  • dwatch

    Watch this interesting video

    Fracking: The controversy around hydraulic fracturing [The conversation] –

  • raftonpounder

    It is only “cheap” if Fracking companies don’t pay for the externalities. Oh and… Climate Change.

    A couple of hundred driving jobs in Fermanagh will not avert a great depression. Destruction of the agri-food industry there won’t help struggling rural communities.

    (Insert reasonable, sensible argument about cleaner renewable energy resources and jobs here)

  • Sluggerposter

    Just to highlight that I am involved in the anti fracking campaign and I have no idea who this guy was.

  • JR

    The way I see it, it’s been there for 65 million yeas, it is not going anywhere in the next 5-10 years. Oil and gas is only getting more expensive and the extraction prosses can only improve. What do we have to loose by leaving it in the ground for a while?

  • Reader

    raftonpounder: Oh and… Climate Change.
    Gas is vastly more carbon efficient than Coal, and significantly more carbon efficient than oil. Obviously nuclear is better than any of them, but has some PR issues.

    JR: Oil and gas is only getting more expensive and the extraction prosses can only improve. What do we have to loose by leaving it in the ground for a while?
    Energy security. Some of our external gas suppliers are as nasty as we have ever seen, we are at the very end of the supply chain, and our gas storage facilities are too limited to withstand energy blackmail.

  • No fracking in the Rathlin Basin – Donal Cunningham, Moyle SDLP

    Opposition mounts against fracking in border region – Domhnall O’Cofaigh, Chair Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network. [IIRC Domhnall was an occasional SO’T contributor.]

  • Cynic2

    Climate change? Which version?


    the Millennium Bug?
    Acid Rain?
    Tree Hugging?

  • Cynic2

    Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network.

    There always has to be an ‘activist’ network doesn’t there

  • Comrade Stalin

    Just to highlight that I am involved in the anti fracking campaign and I have no idea who this guy was.

    Probably one of the hipster Trotskyite dickheads who latch on to whatever the cause du jure is, now that the “we won’t pay water tax” campaign is no longer hip and cool.

  • aquifer

    I’ll pay if it has no gas in it.

  • DT123

    Jobs and a huge reduction in local energy bills?

    What’s to debate?

    Benefits claimants or students need not reply.

  • looper

    Alliance/Green Party Motion*

  • iluvni

    I take it the Executive can do something worthwhile for a change and ignore this ludicrous Assembly vote?

  • quality


    As Diana Rusk pointed out in today’s Irish News, the motion is not binding in any legal sense. Plus it’s worded in a way as to be almost meaningless.

    Arlene Foster and the next Environment Minister’s decisions will dictate what happened, not yesterday’s debate.

  • raftonpounder

    @Cynic2 This Climate Change:
    His research was not to determine a cause but many, many others have unequivocally laid the blame at our feet.

    @Reader, Not all gas is the same I am afraid.
    “Over a 20-year time period, the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of shale gas is greater than that of coal, oil or conventional gas, according to a recent study. Methane emissions make up most of this footprint. This suggests that substituting conventional fossil fuels with shale gas may not have the desired effect to mitigate climate warming in the short-term.”

    “Over 20 years horizon, the GHG footprint of shale gas is primarily influenced by methane and is 22 to 43 per cent higher than for conventional gas, at least 20 per cent to twice as high as the GHG footprint for coal and at least 50 per cent to 2.5 times higher than for oil.”

    Renewable Energy provides security, we are not going to run out of wind, tides or geothermal energy anytime soon. If you want to reduce GHGs, go with the energy source that produces the least.

    @DT123 What on earth makes you think that we will get Energy cheaper than anyone else on the market?

  • The yokel

    RP re @Reader, Not all gas is the same I am afraid.
    this paper by Manchester University staff casts serious doubt on your reference.

  • DT123


    Well I would it imagine it would be a good way of selling the whole concept to the locals,if they were to receive the gas being pumped from underneath their feet at a bargain price.Like fuel in the Middle east or Venezuela.

  • raftonpounder

    Or the paper I suggested casts serious doubts on that reference?
    However, I take what you have said on board and I think both papers state further analysis is needed, especially into fugitive emissions.
    Coal definitely needs to be removed from the mix, gas is used but finding more sources does nothing to move us away from fossil fuels as a predominant energy source.
    The Tyndall paper states
    “the CO2 emissions from shale gas are likely to be only marginally higher than those from conventional gas sources.”
    “Without a meaningful cap on emissions of global GHGs, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase net carbon emissions.” (Given current political priorities continuing)

    Use of shale gas is simply continuing along the same high carbon path which has led us to Climate Change. The Climate Change that is already happening in countries around the world today

    The localised environmental problems with the extraction and exploitation of shale gas is yet another reason why we should not progress down this road.

  • The yokel

    Or the paper I suggested casts serious doubts on that reference? What!
    Can you tell me what status a “DG Environmental news alert service” single page pamphlet has in the scientific world compared to say, to a scientific paper from Manchester University Tyndall center for climate change research?

    I would say the potential natural gas reserves in Lough Allen basin, sustainability exploited, would offer a cost effective way of taking coal out of the equation in Ireland

  • pauluk

    Phelim McAleer talking about his exposure of anti-fracking activism and spin-doctors in a new documentary being released this week: FrackNation


    Currently the vast majority of electricity used in Northern Ireland is dependent on imported gas. This allied to our reliance on imported petrol and diesel means that huge percentages of everyone’s take home pay is flowing out of Northern Ireland and towards Scotland or Saudi Arabia. I have not done enough research on Fracking to judge if it is safe or not but I do not consider watching a film to be research. Lets have a full and open scientific debate on the pros and cons of Fracking but if we have a resource lets consider it and not blindly shout no like some new age Luddite

  • pauluk

    Phelim McAleer is like a conservative Michael Moore. How annoying would that be for enviro-mental, tree-hugging liberals? Watch this, and see…FrackNation trailer

    This affects us in Northern Ireland, so it is worth getting some facts, right?