MP cautions against gas dash

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SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has cautioned against the dash for gas through fracking.

Speaking after an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee session on Fracking that questioned representatives from two fracking companies – Ms Ritchie, the only Northern Irish MP on the EFRA Committee commented: “We must be cautious about signing up to Fracking when we cannot yet predict the lasting consequences of it.

“The reckless approach of racing ahead without the necessary knowledge and research in place is risky, and we should not take such risks with our environment.

“We know there have been instances of water contamination through fracking in the US. We know there have been seismic tremors up to 2.5 on the Richter Scale in Lancashire following exploratory drilling in 2011.

“These incidents demonstrate the reality of the risks involved,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Furthermore there is a question of water resource and water recycling.

“Each fracking operation uses between two to six million gallons of water, topped up with sand and chemicals that are pummelled into the earth to release the shale gas. Exact figures on how much of this water is purified, recycled and reused are not readily available, and questions remain.

“We cannot afford to adopt a trial and error campaign where our environment is concerned. We must be fully confident that the necessary safety measures are in place and research conducted before we can sign up our future to fracking,” she added.

“Fracking would also increase our dependence on fossil fuels at a time we need to be focusing on developing and investing in renewable energy.

“It is short-sighted to look to fracking as an answer, and it will divert us from EU2020 carbon reduction targets.

“There are a number of serious risks associated with fracking – including water contamination and dangerous seismic reactions, and until the adequate research and safety assurances are in place, we are not in a position to responsibly proceed with it.”