2013 is past and most of us are not unhappy to be in a New Year. For many people and campaigners, 2013 was a tough year – throughout Ireland, people struggled with the national economic situation, personal reduction in disposable income and, of course, the looming threat of unconventional gas projects on our island.
2014 also promises to be a busy and challenging year. The proposals to start drilling in Antrim and Fermanagh must be opposed with a really effective campaign that operates at all levels; a major campaign to advocate for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on national policy re fracking and a campaign to have an SEA on such policy must also be organised. On top of all of that, the reality of Climate Change is hitting home and GEAI must produce some policy papers on renewable/sustainable energy sources.
Recently we received confirmation that GEAI and MARDI have been awarded a Youth Democracy project that will encourage young people from Ireland and Poland to study how environmental campaigns are waged in the two countries, also how decisions are made at EU Parliament level. We are looking forward to this exciting, interesting and challenging project.
Certainly, there is no room for complacency – powerful consortia are eyeing our island and planning exploitation of our natural resources without any care for our environment, our heritage, or our people. The fight against such exploitation must take place at every level – on the street, advocacy, mounting legal challenges, awareness raising throughout the island. 2014 is a crucial year with local authority and EU elections in May. It is vital that fracking becomes an election issue with all parties and independents.