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30/09/2013

Rural Minister Rules Out Fracking

Northern Ireland's Agricultural Minister Michelle O'Neill has said that no fracking will take place on any land owned by her department.

The announcement followed a question by Minister O'Neill's colleague in Sinn Féin, Phil Flanagan.

The scope of the statement includes the Forest Service, which accounts for 30,690 acres.

Minister O’Neill said: "During my time as Minister of this Department I would not agree to fracking taking place on land owned by my department."

Hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', is a controversial method of releasing natural gas from the earth by drilling and injecting fluid at a high pressure.

Environmental campaign groups have warned the process could cause irreparable damage to the earth and the surrounding environment.

Welcoming the commitment, Mr Flanagan said: "This is a very positive move and demonstrates Sinn Féin’s commitment to opposing fracking anywhere in Ireland.

"The risks associated with fracking have long been debated and it is widely accepted across Ireland that fracking is not in the best interests of our people, of our environment or of our economy.

"Fracking poses a very real risk to the success of our farming industry, which is vital in counties like Fermanagh & Leitrim.

"It is therefore very welcome that the Minister with responsibility for protecting the agriculture sector, forestry and rural development has vowed to block any proposals to allow fracking to take place on any of her department’s lands."

(IT/CD)

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