Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s draft Local Development Plan “is not explicit enough in its opposition to fracking,” according to anti-fracking campaigners.
A public consultation on the Council’s new Local Development Plan and Community Plan ended on Monday.
Representatives from three local anti-fracking groups: Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN), Belcoo Frack Free and Letterbreen and Mullaghdun Partnership (LAMP) attended Enniskillen Townhall on Monday and submitted 675 submissions from the local community calling for the Council to include a more strongly worded opposition to fracking in the plans.
Currently, the draft Local Development Plan states that it “will reflect the presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon extraction until such times as there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts as set out in the Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland.” The Community Plan does not refer to fracking.
Anti-fracking campaigners say that, during the public engagement process, there was a strong cross-community consensus that fracking was incompatible with the sustainability remit both plans. They argue that the community consensus has not been reflected in the plans.
“Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network have studied the local development plan paper and found that the wording used to oppose fracking is much weaker than was demanded by the public at last year’s consultations. FFAN and many other groups and individuals have been involved in the current round of consultations last month and we state yet that the local development plan is not reflecting the wishes as clearly expressed by the public,” a spokesman from FFAN said.
“This refusal by the Council to include fracking issues in local development plans has caused outrage in the local communities who are determined that their community plans and local development plans do as they are intended to do and represent the community concerns and wishes,” added a spokeswoman from LAMP.
They have called on the Council to also insert the following wording: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will oppose the granting of petroleum exploration licences over target strata described as shales, mud-stones, coal seams and ‘tight’ sandstone formations. There will be a presumption against planning applications associated with the exploration and/or development of petroleum resources situated in shales, mud-stones, ‘tight’ sandstone formations and coal seams.”