Belfast Telegraph

Anti-drilling campaigners warn over 'short-cut' risks

By Linda Stewart

The team building an exploratory oil drill near Carrickfergus has been accused of taking short-cuts that could increase the risk of fluid leaking from the site.

Campaigners opposed to the oil exploration by InfraStrata close to a reservoir that supplies thousands of homes across Belfast and Co Antrim with drinking water say they fear the company has failed to lay a layer of sand that would help prevent leaks.

The campaigners last night said they believe the huge drill is about to be installed at Woodburn Forest.

Stop The Drill campaigner Majella McCarron said the statutory agencies who are supposed to protect the environment are "fiddling while Rome burns".

"We are very concerned that InfraStrata have failed to lay a required layer of sand which is intended to protect the underlying bentonite mat on the well site," she said. "The InfraStrata document Project Environmental Report states: 'The site is sealed by placing a bentonite mat, sandwiched between sand and geotextile layers to minimise the risk of damage, beneath the entire footprint of the site'.

"There are no signs or evidence of sand having been used to minimise the risk of damage to the bentonite mat that we can ascertain. Furthermore, the site is being monitored by locals and no one we have spoken to has observed deliveries of sand to the site.

"This short-cut, in our view, will increase the risk of substantial damage to the matting which in turn will increase the risk of contaminated fluids leaking from the site."

Ms McCarron said Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have failed in their duty to take enforcement action against InfraStrata because of blatant breaches of permitted development rights and their actions will be challenged in the High Court tomorrow at a Judicial Review hearing.

She added: "You are all fiddling while Rome burns. You should consider your consciences and your positions."

The campaigners have been backed by Spotlight and Avengers star Mark Ruffalo and human rights advocate Bianca Jagger. Last month, the Belfast Telegraph reported that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment is still carrying out due diligence checks on some of the companies involved in the drilling consortium.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said it was unable to comment pending the Judicial Review that is due to take place tomorrow.

by linda stewart

Belfast Telegraph

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