Need for robust regulations, inspection and enforcement before any further oil/gas exploration is permitted.

29 05 2014


 Speaking after attending a public meeting in the Dunluce Parish Centre, Bushmills organized by the Ballinlea Residents Group, SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham who is opposed to the Ballinlea No2 test well, has called for a robust regime of regulation, inspection and enforcement for the oil and gas industry before any permissions are considered to allow further exploration.

Guest speaker, Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET an independent chartered engineer highlighted to the meeting the deficiencies of the UK regulation system and the need for an independent on-site testing and verification regime.

Councillor Cunningham continued “Regulation, inspection and enforcement are required to protect well integrity, well leakages (vertical and horizontal) as well as leakages from flanges and flares.”

“The public have every right to be concerned that the existing regulation is inadequate. Given that Methane gas is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and that Radon gas is the second highest cause of lung cancer, the local community needs the protection of robust and far reaching regulation.”

Fair Head Tidal Energy project – public information days

27 05 2014


Please see detail of Public Information days issued by Tidal Energy Project

Public Information Days – Ballycastle 11th June and Rathlin Island 12th June 2014

 As you may already be aware DP Energy (in conjunction with offshore construction company DEME) are proposing to install a tidal generation scheme at Fair Head off the North Antrim coast where the currents are strongest and offers excellent potential for the generation of clean and reliable power. Together we have set up a dedicated project company Fair Head Tidal Energy Park Ltd (FHT) which will evaluate the resource, environmental impacts and engage with stakeholders as we go through the consent process. 

 FHT was awarded an Agreement for Lease from The Crown Estate in 2012 and has already engaged with local stakeholders including those with fishing interests as well as undertaken a number of development activities looking at resource, the presence of marine mammals, sea birds, etc in preparation for producing an environmental impact assessment and report.

 A key part of the development process is, of course, engagement with local people and communities in order to both provide information on the proposal, but also to obtain feedback as part of the assessment and evaluation prior to submitting any formal application for consent. To this end we are hosting two public open days with an exhibition in Ballycastle on June 11th from 2.00pm until 8.00pm and on Rathlin on June 12th from 2.00pm until 4.30pm We will be sharing information on tidal energy in general, as well as site specific information from the surveys we have been undertaking and propose to do in the coming months. The open days will also provide details on some of the tidal turbine technologies being considered, and our current thinking on where the power may be brought ashore. Members of the FHT team will be on hand throughout these events to answer questions and to listen and note any concerns (or voices of support) raised.

 Subject to consents and the availability of grid connection the first stage of the proposal is to install a tidal farm of up to 10MW, comprising between 5 and 10 turbines. This will form part of our European Commission TIDES project intended to demonstrate tidal arrays and would we hope be one of the earliest arrays developed in the UK. The technology for this stage would be Siemens/MCT broadly similar to that deployed in Strangford Lough but we are also considering solutions which are largely sub-sea. The second stage would be more substantial completing the scheme’s 100MW output leading to a potential investment of around £400m, and providing enough to power to supply 70,000 homes.

 We believe tidal energy in Northern Ireland can make an important contribution to meeting Northern Ireland and European climate change and renewable energy targets, as well as providing greater energy security which is becomingly evidently more critical as the current instability in eastern Europe shows just how vulnerable we are to coal, gas and oil shortages. 


Beyond the broader energy aspect there is clearly an opportunity on the back of projects such as Fair Head to expand on Northern Ireland’s early lead in the tidal energy arena (Strangford Lough) and develop direct socio-economic benefits and an export based industry to benefit both the North Antrim area and Northern Ireland as a whole.


The Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has been very supportive of the tidal energy sector and plans and I should also note we have been particularly pleased with the help and support we have received from Northern Ireland agencies in general. In fact we have found from our experiences to date having undertaken public open days in both Scotland and Nova Scotia positivity about tidal energy is something of a common theme.

 Blair Marnie is the Fair Head Tidal project manager;

  • Joris Minne of JPR is managing our communications;  and
  • Clodagh McGrath, Environmental Manager.

McKillop thanks DRD for tactile paving installation

22 05 2014


Glens SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop would like to thank DRD Roads Service for installing tactile paving in certain areas in Cushendall.
This paving was installed after a local resident who is blind and uses a guide dog got in contact with Cllr McKillop explaining her problems getting about in the town.
Before the paving was installed the resident often found herself in the middle of the road as there was no indication of the foot path ending.
Cllr McKillop said “Hopefully this will solve the problems and help make her life a lot easier, allowing her to continue to be as independent as possible.”
Glendun Road
“I would also like to call on Roads Service to have a site meeting regards Glendun Road, a number of residents have been in contact with me about safety issues on the road – wanting it resurfaced as it is in very bad state, as well as the possibility of it being widened. I look forward to hearing from Road Service with regards this issue as soon as possible.”

Is Rathlin Energy Ltd exploring for shale gas, or not?

15 05 2014

fracking- 14


Please see excellent piece from mb on the ‘No to Fracking ‘ blog

Is Rathlin Energy Ltd exploring for shale gas, or not?.

Future of DVA workers must be made clear

13 05 2014

 SDLP Reps at DVA Rally

SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat has accompanied a NIPSA delegation to meet the Head of the Northern Civil Service, Dr Malcolm McKibbin, to discuss the future of DVA workers in Coleraine.

 Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dallat said:

 “Given that the DVA workers now know their computers will be closed down on 11 July, I regarded this meeting as crucial to understanding what is happening to the future of the 285 DVA workers who may find themselves in an intolerable situation where they will be coming to work for the next six months with nothing to do and no future to look forward to.  That simply isn’t acceptable.

 “I believe the case was put very robustly by the NIPSA representatives and I was happy to endorse their accounts of shattered morale, a feeling of being let down by the DVLA in Swansea and no support from the government at Westminster.  I regret that no other party political representatives were able to attend to emphasise the high level of solidarity that exists for these workers but I will endeavour to keep them informed.

 “Obviously I will monitor closely any progress made by the Northern Ireland Civil Service to absorb as many of these jobs as possible. I look forward to a report from them being placed before the Assembly outlining what can be done to minimise the serious impact this closedown will have on the individuals and on the community as a whole.

 “I am pleased that the Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan is working with the Minister for Finance and Personnel Simon Hamilton and hopefully the outcome of their involvement will influence the decisions that the Executive must take on 29 May when they next meet.

 “It is indeed ironic that the workers have been asked to work overtime which can’t be easy given the inevitable result of their endeavours.”

Rural Summer Scheme Grant Programme

13 05 2014


Moyle  Council invites applications from voluntary community and youth organisations wishing to organise a general community-based summer schemes in their communities during the summer holiday period to apply to the Rural Summer Scheme Grant Programme. The aim of the  Rural Summer Schemes Grant Programme is to provide financial assistance to schemes which offer multi-activity programmes and are open to children and young people under the age of 18 or young adults with special needs. Since Council already runs a summer scheme at Sheskburn Recreation Centre in Ballycastle, the grant is only available to voluntary organisations based in rural areas of Moyle outside of Ballycastle town.

 Application Form and Guidance Notes can be downloaded from the links belowor are available from Council.  The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 12 noon on Monday 2nd June 2014.

Rural Summer Scheme Grant Application Form 2014

Rural Summer Scheme Grant Guidance Notes 2014


Bid to cut falls among children and older people

13 05 2014
Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland (HAP NI) held a very successful launch of its annual home safety campaign at the Guildhall, Derry on Monday 12th May 2014. The focus of this year’s campaign is on Falls Prevention. This year’s campaign is entitled “Wise Up  … Watch Your Step! Stop Fall Injuries in the Home.”
While the consequences of a slip, trip or fall are minor in many cases, for older people and very young children, in particular, the consequences can be serious and life changing.
In 2012, 125 people died as a result of a home accident in Northern Ireland. These figures exceed road and farm fatalities combined. Of those who died at home 71 (58%) died as a result of a fall and the vast majority were older people. 41% of all people who attend our A&E Departments do so as a result of a home accident, again falls are the single biggest reason for attending.
The audience included representatives from HAP Groups from throughout Northern Ireland and other practitioners who work to support families and older members of the community.
Throughout the year local HAP groups will provide talks, information sessions and in conjunction with councils offer Home Safety advice visits to help reduce the numbers.
Commenting on the event, Mr. Conor McCleave, Chairperson of HAP NI said: “Every year falls injure hundreds of people in Northern Ireland, leaving many members of our community with life changing injuries. We hope that by providing lots of clear practical advice that we can help ensure that the people we love stay healthy and happy and safely on their feet”
Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland (HAP NI) is a voluntary network who aims to prevent all kinds of accidents which occur in and around our homes. HAP NI provide a local forum of employer supported and traditional volunteers including support from Environmental Health, Voluntary Services, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Police Service for Northern Ireland, Housing Executive, RoSPA, Health Trusts, Local Community Organisations.
For further information contact:
David Adams, Management Team, HAP NI, tel. 028 2766 0277 or email  

Ballycastle and Glens successfully host 2014 ‘Giro d’Italia’

10 05 2014

 Giro at Crockatinny

After months and weeks of preparation which saw almost everything that didn’t move change colour to pink, Ballycastle and the Glens successfully played host to Day 2 of the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

 The community spirit generated in the preparation for the event wasn’t dampened by the day’s rain.

 Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham said “The Giro is probably the world’s largest cycling race featuring approx 200 of the world’s elite cyclists from around the globe. Ballycastle and the Glens were honoured to host this fantastic spectacle and despite the rain, once again we proved our ability to host major world events.”

 “The spectacular aerial TV shots of the local coast line and the majestic Bonamargy Friary were beamed to a massive global audience and I hope that this can be a major spur to further promote the area as a global destination”

 “Today the local community, independent businesses and Council staff proved themselves to be ambassadors for the area and ideal hosts for tourists and visitors“

On the Campaign trail

4 05 2014


Campaign trail

The SDLP are standing 12 candidates in each of the electoral areas in the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council area.  Of the 12 candidates 7 (58%)are female, representing our clear intention to increase female representation in local government.

The SDLP have always been  a campaigning party and it is  only by getting out and talking to local people can we find out about the issues that affect them. To date canvassing throughout all areas has been going well and there is a definite sense that the SDLP are the party to bring about ‘Change for the Better’

Your SDLP candidates are as follows

Ballymoney – Harry Boyle and Angela Mulholland

Bann – Roisin Loftus

Benbradagh – Orla Beattie and Michael Coyle

Causeway – Maura Hickey

Coleraine – Stephanie Quigley

Limavady – Jason Allen and Gerry Mullan

The Glens – Dónal Cunningham, Joanne McKeown and Margaret Anne McKillop 

If you are interested in helping with any of the campaigns either by canvassing, distributing leaflets or by donating please contact Dónal Cunningham at






McKeown calls for traffic calming

2 05 2014



Glens SDLP candidate, Joanne McKeown from Loughgiel has called for traffic calming measures in rural villages.

Joanne said

“As a mother of three young children, road safety is an issue that is very close to my heart. I am particularly concerned about the speed of many drivers on rural roads and the need to slow drivers down, especially as they pass through our villages.”

Mrs McKeown states “ Roads Service have  done great work in recent years improving road signage and implementing speed limits in built up areas, however many drivers ignore the warning signs and continue to drive at excessive speed.  There are other drivers who try to remain within the speed limit but due to the nature of some roads, they end up travelling faster than desired without realising it.  I believe that the installation of traffic calming measures to slow traffic down, particularly as it enters and leaves our villages, would remind drivers to slow down and exercise caution.  Reducing speed by just a few miles per hour can greatly impact upon the survival chances for anyone involved in a road traffic collision and we need to do as much as possible to protect all road users. Unless some action is taken to slow the speed of traffic in rural areas, an accident is just waiting to happen.“