Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott has said that the UK Government have progressed fracking much too quickly.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MP made clear that he would not support hydraulic fracturing while there is any reasonable suspicion that it has a negative impact on the environment and public health.
Mr Elliott said:
“It is easy to say that fracking in the bigger states of America is positive and produces a massive supply of energy. We need to compare those states with some of the areas we have heard about today and with my constituency, where there is cross-border exploration between Northern Ireland—in other words, the United Kingdom—and the Republic of Ireland. It is clear that we cannot compare a small, densely populated area such as mine with the vast, sparsely populated areas in America that are carrying out fracking. There is no comparison at all, but the Government have not taken that on board.
“We cannot progress with fracking unless there is a full, independent—I stress ‘independent’—environmental impact assessment that demonstrates that there will be no negative environmental impact. Secondly, there must be a full, independent public health impact assessment. Members have talked about public health, but it is not always given the importance it should have, and it is sometimes overlooked. We must therefore have confirmation that there will be no negative public health impact. Thirdly, there needs to be an economic appraisal of how good fracking is not only for the UK, but for local people. What will they get out of it economically? Will their land simply be taken off them and vested to someone else? Will trucks drive through their areas? Will they have monstrous structures on their back doorsteps? Will they get a reduction in their rates or council tax? Will there be a direct economic benefit for them, or will the big companies come in and take all the benefits? That is something people will not comprehend.
“The public will not accept having fracking steam-rolled through a process that they are not part of. That will not happen unless the three points I mentioned are dealt with and it is shown that fracking is not harmful to the environment or public health and that it provides an economic benefit to local people. That is the position of the Ulster Unionist party. I should make it clear again that the Government have moved on too quickly.”
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