NI farmers warned that gas industry in Province would impact them

The development of a gas industry in Northern Ireland would have a knock-on impact on farmers under any climate bill that includes carbon emmission targets, a campaigner has warned.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 5:34 pm
Diane Little addresses an Exctinction Rebellion protest at the Department of the Economy in Belfast

That is the warning from Co Fermanagh-based lobbyist Diane Little, who has opposed the development of a gas extraction industry in Northern Ireland on public health grounds.

She was speaking to the News Letter this week, following an address she gave during an Extinction Rebellion protest at the Department of the Economy Department offices in Belfast on Thursday.

She is speaking out following a warning from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) that an ambitious programme to effectively end CO2 pollution by 2045 could ruin the farming sector.

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The UFU was reacting to a report from accountancy and consulting firm KPMG, which the UFU had commissioned (alongside other agricultural lobbyists).

The report looks at what the economic fallout would be of trying to cut out all CO2 from the economy – and concludes that there could be around 13,000 job losses in the livestock sector if Northern Ireland attempts to go “net-zero carbon” by 2045.

Two climate bills are under consideration by the Northern Ireland Assembly – one submitted by the Green Party which sets more ambitious carbon reduction targets, and another submitted by the DUP’s Edwin Poots which sets less ambitious targets.

Ms Little said farmers could pay the price if an oil and gas industry uses up a significant chunk of the ‘carbon budget’.

“This is really an emergency because we have two big petroleum licences sitting in the Department of the Economy right now,” she said.

“This is a big issue for farmers, who are concerned about the climate bill and concerned about climate budgets, but what they’re not being told is that there are some trying to set up an oil and gas industry in Northern Ireland.

“What that will mean for farmers is that they will be forced to share their carbon budget.

“What will happen to the farmers is the carbon budget will be spent.”

She added: “When the Executive meets they must suspend and reverse their petroleum policy, ban petroleum licensing and establish a firewall between the gas lobby and policy makers.”

Two petroleum licence applications are currently under consideration in Northern Ireland.