Said the Foyle MLA: “We have had raging forest fires in the United States and Australia this year.
“We have even this week had BP saying that demand for oil will reduce substantially in the coming decades, as this major oil and gas corporation moves itself to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
“So it is clear that the North of Ireland has to accelerate its progress away from dependence both on oil and coal.
“Yet the economy department has just commissioned a £75,000 research project into the potential economic, societal and environmental impacts of onshore petroleum exploration and production in the North of Ireland, involving the highly controversial fracking technology.
“I am calling on her to rule out the development of oil exploration in the North of Ireland, as was previously the case with my party colleague Mark H Durkan when he was environment minister.
“It would be far better, and actually provide us with useful information for the future, if the minister acted in accordance with New Decade, New Approach by commissioning research into as yet unexploited renewable opportunities.
“We need to know what are the real opportunities in North of Ireland to exploit geothermal, hydro and wave technologies.”