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Belfast Council to oppose bid to drill for oil and gas at Carrick forest

By Rebecca Black

Published 03/09/2015

DUP councillor Brian Kingston
DUP councillor Brian Kingston

Belfast City Council has voted to oppose exploratory drilling at Woodburn Forest in Carrickfergus.

The company Infastrata has been permitted to drill for signs of oil and gas.

This has sparked protests by some who fear the work could affect water supplies due to the site's proximity to Woodburn Reservoir.

Almost 2,000 streets are supplied with water from the reservoir including large areas of Belfast, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Larne and Whitehead. Members of the Stop The Drill campaign staged a protest outside Belfast City Hall before the meeting, when Green Party councillor Ross Brown proposed that the council should oppose the drilling.

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said he has received a very large number of letters and emails about the issue.

Several unionists said there was not enough firm evidence that the drilling would have a negative effect. DUP councillor Brian Kingston said: "There has been a great deal of scaremongering about this issue. This is only an exploratory licence, not an extraction licence."

Mr Brown also proposed that the council should writes to Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, and Mid and East Antrim Council about the matter.

The motion passed 28-15 although it was opposed by the DUP and UUP.

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