WITH just under a week until the consultation period closes on proposals to ban the issuing of licences for the exploration, extraction and production of fuels extracted by fracking, Seán Lynch has called on the public who have not yet done so have their voices heard.

The purpose of the Bill is to ensure no fracking can take place in the North of Ireland by banning the issuing of any further licences from the Minister for Economy for the exploration, extraction, and production of fuels extracted by hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, who has engaged with local concerned groups in a cross-Border and cross-party focus on fracking, hopes that after the consultation period has ended, the Bill can begin to move through the Assembly.

Mr. Lynch hopes for support from most of the parties in Stormont, and that the bill would become legislation by the end of this current term.

He said: "I have met with the SDLP, the Alliance, the Greens. I intend to meet with People Before Profit and the UUP, because all of these parties backed the motion back in October on climate change, so therefore I would be hoping all these parties would back this motion as it goes through the various stages of the Assembly.

"I would be hoping it would become legislation before the end of this mandate. There are only 16 months left of this mandate, so taking Summer out, we will have to speedily bring it through the Assembly."

Mr. Lynch hopes that the Bill will bring the North into line with the rest of the island of Ireland, which has banned fracking, with the responses to the consultation process showing that people across the Border have a huge interest in how Northern Ireland proceed in regards to fracking.

"Fracking, where it is earmarked, is a very sensitive and huge issue and we have seen that from the initial responses to the consultation process; people from Leitrim, south Donegal and most of Fermanagh have responded.

"You have the lakes, the [River] Shannon where it rises [to consider in relation to fracking].

"Fracking could be very dangerous to the water tables in this area, [and] to tourism, and we don’t believe in the [economic] benefits others will argue [that fracking would bring].

"We will argue we need to be looking at alternative sources of energy because of world climate changes and we believe that fossil fuels should remain in the ground," Mr. Lynch added.

There are currently two fracking licensing application in for consideration, with one of them covering more than half of Fermanagh.

However, despite fears that they could be approved before his Bill comes into law, Mr. Lynch believes that the political ramifications of approving such a fracking licence would be huge.

He said: "People would be considering the political repercussions of that. It would be very damaging, as there is a groundswell of opinion against fracking."

You can your say on the consultation, which ends on Wednesday, January 27, at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/V5XYP6Z.