“Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.” So it seems this evening, following Arlene Foster’s announcement that Tamboran will receive no further extension to its petroleum licence in Fermanagh. Fracking, at least for the time being, has been turned away at our county boundaries, and everyone is celebrating.
Everyone, that is, except Tamboran itself, which has stomped off, Malvolio-like, with the promise “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you”, translated into the modern idiom as proposed judicial review proceedings of both the DoE and DETI decisions. It was probably inevitable that it would do this, slender as its chances of success are. After all, the whole shale gas industry is a giant speculation; one more gamble is hardly a surprise.
Meanwhile even the DUP, the last bastion of pro-fracking sentiment, can bask in a little green glory. It’s odd to look back to the situation three years ago, when in Stormont only the Green Party was unequivocally opposed to shale gas exploitation, and FFAN was the only community group asking awkward questions. Now no one wants to be fracked, at least not in the UK’s most marginal constituency.
That’s fine. We’re used to having our policies pinched; we hang them out in full view, with all their supporting arguments, and positively invite our neighbours to run away with them. But they ought to realise that they really need the whole ensemble to look the part. Being anti-fracking makes sense, but not when it’s combined with support for TTIP, growth-at-all-costs, other polluting industries such as gold mining in the Sperrins, and the continued failure to enact a Climate Change Bill in Northern Ireland.
Fracking is a terrible business, but it doesn’t stand alone. To banish the spectre for good, we need to make some fundamental changes to the way that we do politics, and the way that we live in our communities. I’m proud to have played a role in what has been achieved, but even happier to be a part of what we can do together in the years to come.