SDLP Climate Champion Cara Hunter has slammed a decision by DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons to award two mineral prospecting licenses.
Ms Hunter said the SDLP remained firmly opposed to the practice and the DUP Minister was failing to take the views of local communities on board when making his decision.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“From Tyrone to Fermanagh and Derry to Newry people have been clear they don’t want this practice taking place in their areas, it will damage the landscape and the natural environment putting wildlife at risk. We cannot allow Minister Lyons to put profiteering above the needs of local people. One of our most precious commodities is our stunning natural landscapes and they cannot be destroyed at any price.
“The SDLP stands firmly behind local communities on this issue, there can be no precious metal or mineral extraction allowed in the North. We have also steadfastly opposed fracking and other similar practices that would be harmful to our environment.
“SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has already ordered a public inquiry into Dalradian’s gold mine project in West Tyrone and removed permitted development rights for petroleum exploration while launching a review of strategic planning policy on oil and gas development. Former SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan also introduced a moratorium on fracking while in government. We have used our position as political leaders to protect our environment and it’s regrettable the DUP have fallen short yet again when it comes to green issues.
“The DUP seem intent on being wreckers whether it is our institutions or our land and it’s disgraceful at a time when we’re doing our best to approve legislation to make the lives of people across the North better, the DUP are rushing through licenses that will harm our communities and the areas around them.”