TUV politician Alex Elliott would “embrace” fracking in his hometown of Ballinamallard. “I would embrace it and say: ‘Yes, it has to be done,’” he tells The Impartial Reporter.
He is not afraid of upsetting potential voters, saying: “The Ulster Unionists and the DUP are holding back on their opinion on [fracking] because they are not sure whether it will affect voters. My view is: If it’s good for the county, bring it on.” However, he claims that the TUV party has not voiced its support for the controversial process and that he is stating his personal view.
The 55-year-old does not worry about the potential health impacts of fracking on his adult children or his grandchildren, stating: “The environment is there to be protected but it’s also there to be used for the benefits of the people. If that means drilling for gas, go for it.” Following a heated exchange earlier this week on The Impartial Reporter’s facebook page between Alex and various opponents of fracking in Fermanagh, the former police officer states that fracking is “for the greater good of the county; it’s for the greater good of the country; it’s great for the UK full-stop” It was put to him by Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan that, on 18 October 2012 Mr. Elliott told this paper: “Minister Foster did promise us jobs – through the fracking project – but wants to destroy farms and the scenic views of south east Fermanagh in the process.” Asked why he has changed his views on fracking, he replies: “I’ve never changed my opinion. You have to find out the facts. When you get more knowledge on the issue, you understand what it’s all about.” Since his initial comments, Mr. Elliott says he has carried out research on “American websites and what has been happening out there.” He sparked a long online conversation on facebook by positing: “Fermanagh TUV Still awaiting the anti-frackers to highlight where there has been a major environmental catastrophe due to fracking similar to oil-drilling. There ain’t none!” He added: “In view of the recent report on fracking from the Public Health in England; I would encourage our Councillors and those who oppose the process to read and take those findings into account. The positivity from the Health Service agency report outlines the risks from fracking to be low provided that operations are properly run and regulated.” Richard Ireton from Monea responded: “Alex we can expect an extra 300 HGVs PER DAY on our roads JUST to haul the sand for Tamboran’s stated number of wells. For goodness sake Alex, you get on board with common sense.” Derek Maguidhir wrote: “It’s madness that a TUV politician would welcome in an industry that has been effectively been banned in Dallas, Texas, which, as I’m sure everyone who has actually studied the history of this industry, is in the state where this form of industrial process was invented.” Asked if he would mind seeing lots of trucks drive past his home to-and-from frack sites, he replies: “When I look out my window I see windmills. They aren’t particularly nice but I accept progression.” He adds: “These folk – these anti-frackers and environmentalists – will have to accept [fracking] because it will come.” On the environmental impact of fracking, Mr. Elliott states: “Yes accidents happen, there probably will be an accident in Fermanagh, there will be spillages and whatever else but you have to accept risk in everyday life.” “At the minute they are talking about 600 jobs over a 15 year period,” Mr. Elliott continues. “But this is going to bring new roads, new infrastructure to Fermanagh. It will create a demand for housing because people moving into the county are going to need housing. It will create wealth because these drillers and specialists are going to buy new cars and new TVs,” he claims.
When Mr. Elliott hears claims that children near frack sites in Australia are suffering from nose bleeds, headaches and a grand mal seizures, he replies: “I can’t comment on someone whose family history I don’t know. I’ve no doubt there will be risks; everything we do in life will have risks.” He concludes: “If the first guys hadn’t went out to the oil wells and dug holes, where would we be as a world today? We’d still be sitting with candles and travelling on horses and carts.”