The Northern Ireland Minister for the Environment, Mark Durkan, published a planning blueprint banning hydraulic fracturing in the region. The planning blueprint, which provides guidance for Northern Ireland’s 11 councils, consolidates multiple existing planning policies to create a single Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) for use by local planners.

The SPPS declares that “in relation to unconventional hydrocarbon extraction there should be a presumption against their exploitation until there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts.”

The policy statement published by the Northern Ireland Executive can be found on the Department of the Environment’s planning portal.

DUP Antrim Member of Parliament Sammy Wilson believes the decision will be overturned by the Executive and called the ban “totally illegal.” Ukip Member of the Legislative Assembly David McNarry agreed saying:

“Banning fracking here is the most irresponsible decision in a long time, particularly when there is evidence of how it could boost our economy. [Durkan’s] decision is irreconcilable with other parts of the UK where fracking is going ahead.”

The news of the ban follows a recent announcement from the UK government that it would introduce new measures in the hope of fast-tracking fracking applications.

However, last month, the UK government decided not to grant new petroleum exploration and development licenses (PEDLs) in Scotland and Wales, due to the restructuring of power settlements set out in the Scotland Bill, currently before parliament, and the soon to be introduced Wales Bill.