Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland villagers' concern over initials on gold mine map

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Some residents of a Co Tyrone village have expressed concern after their initials appeared on a map included in planning documents for a mine.

A map was submitted to the Department for Infrastructure by Canadian company Dalradian Gold as part of its plans its gold project in Co Tyrone.

A spokesman for Dalradian has said the map had been used for when the company was communicating with local residents via newsletter, with the purpose of ensuring "we were respecting the wishes of residents in receiving or not receiving communications from the company".

Millions of ounces of precious metal have been identified at Curraghinalt near the village of Gortin, with the company saying it would generate $1bn (£750m) over a 25-year period.

While environmental protesters have campaigned against the development, some local people are supportive after a community fund was established by the firm.

In a statement, the Department for Infrastructure said after being made aware of the map it had removed it from the Planning Portal, and it would be reinstated once the initials of residents had been removed.

The map shows an area north of Omagh around the villages of Greencastle and Gortin, with dots marked on certain houses and initials placed next to them. 

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on condition of anonymity, one resident whose initials appear on the map said: "Anybody with local knowledge would immediately know whose the property is."

"It is irregular. If they had identified all of the properties it would have been one thing."

Another resident said her husband's initials had appeared on the document.

"It is very alarming. It feels like we’re under surveillance," she said.

A spokesman for Dalradian said: "This map relates to a period of time when the company was communicating with local residents via a newsletter, part of an extensive community engagement program.

"The map was used to ensure we were respecting the wishes of residents in receiving or not receiving communications from the company.

"A map showing only the distribution routes will be uploaded as a replacement.

"At all times Dalradian acts to respect the wishes of local residents and to communicate with them appropriately.’’

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said it "fully supports and complies with the eight Data Protection Principles as set out in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998" - but that initials appearing on the map are not considered "sensitive personal data".

"The data in question was provided to the Department by Dalradian Gold Ltd as part of their Pre-Application Community Consultation report. Until drawn to our attention, the Department was not aware that the map contained the initials of residents. The Department takes extreme care when publishing personal information on the Planning Portal," she said.

She added the department did not require the initials marked on the map for the purposes of processing the planning application.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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