Belfast Telegraph

High Court challenge over planned gold mine given permission to go ahead

By Alan Erwin

A residents group has secured permission to mount a High Court challenge over a planned gold mine in Co Tyrone.

Leave was granted to seek a judicial review of alleged flaws in the preliminary consultation process carried out by Canadian company Dalradian.

The case is being taken against the Department for Infrastructure for giving the green light to the project.

A spokesperson for Dalradian said: "Dalradian is aware, as a notice party, of the legal challenge of a decision by the Department for Infrastructure. The company will comment on any material developments, if, as or when they arise."

Lawyers representing the Greencastle, Rouskey and Gortin Concerned Community (GRG) claimed it was the first case of its kind, with the potential to halt the gold mine.

With millions of ounces of precious metal identified near the village of Gortin, it is estimated that it could eventually generate hundreds of millions of pounds.

The resident's challenge centres on a proposal to construct a processing plant and waste storage facility on the area known as Crockanboy Hill.

The group, led by a professional advisory team, claim the pre-application consultation process carried out by Dalradian was vague and ambiguous.

According to their case the complexity of the scheme confused impacted residents.

They allege the Department failed to fulfil its statutory duty to ensure the pre-application community consultation was robust and meaningful.

Mr Justice McCloskey granted leave to apply for judicial review on the basis that an arguable case has been established.

The challenge will now proceed to a full hearing at the High Court in Belfast in June.

Outside court GRG spokesperson Martin Conway said: "We are the people who will be directly impacted by a processing and waste storage facility right on our doorsteps.

"The consultation event was not fit for purpose with little detail exhibited.

"This is in stark contrast to the planning application where we have been bombarded with a whole host of maps and drawings that should have been made available earlier for proper consultation, input and comment."

Solicitor Andrew Ryan of international law firm TLT, representing GRG, added: "The planning application is one of the largest and most complex to be submitted in Northern Ireland and it is therefore critical that the pre-application community consultation requirements have been met.

"This is the first judicial review of its kind in Northern Ireland and it is essential that there is a thorough examination of the procedures and the work of the Department for Infrastructure in allowing Dalradian's planning application to be accepted and processed in view of the procedural and legal issues identified by GRG and its advisers."

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