Good News from today's Council meeting - Fracking ban remains in place.
Earlier today the elected members of Sligo County Council unanimously voted in favour of my motion "That the ban on fracking - unconventional gas exploration and extraction (UGEE) be retained in the Draft Development Plan".
The lobbying by many people who wanted the ban retained certainly helped to concentrate the minds of certain councillors.
When I addressed the meeting I pointed out that when I first submitted my proposal that a fracking ban be included in the Development Plan, in June of last year, the proposal was warmly welcomed by the people of this community and I said that people were aware of the dangers that fracking poses to water quality, to human safety and to the general environment.
I went on to say "the fracking ban was warmly welcomed by the people of this community who fully recognise the dangers that fracking poses to water quality, to human safety and to the general environment.
In the intervening period opposition to fracking has grown further and there is even a possibility of legislation to ban fracking being adopted by the Dail.
When our draft Plan went out for public consultation I half expected that one or other of the pro fracking commercial operators would make a submission seeking to have the ban removed.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that the submission seeking the removal of the ban was made by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly.
In the submission the Director of the Regional Assembly Mr David Minton, stated that such planning policy bans are ultra vires and accordingly should not be incorporated in the plan.
The fact that the Chief Executive of this Council is recommending that the ban be removed from the Development Plan does not really surprise me. Mr Hayes made it clear when I first tabled my motion to ban fracking that he was unhappy with it and he specifically said that the format and wording of the motion was not appropriate for a Development Plan or policy document.
However the members unanimously voted to include the ban in the Development Plan and it is unfortunate that the Chief Executive will not respect that decision and that he is back again recommending that the ban be removed from the Plan.
Fortunately it is not regional assembly or the chief executive who ultimately decide what is included in our Development Plan – it is the elected representatives of the people of this county who make the decision, and it is my hope today that the elected representatives will stand by their decision and reject the Chief Executive’s recommendation to remove the ban on fracking.
What we in Ireland need now, is not to indulge the greed of the oil and gas companies who will do anything to get further profit out of the ground, What we need is investment in clean, safe and sustainable energy that can provide for people’s needs and protect the environment.
Given the strength of evidence already available, and continuing to emerge it would be unacceptable for this Council to allow fracking in county Sligo.
I would appeal to colleagues to retain the ban on fracking in the Development Plan"