Environmental Statement required for Ballinlea application

5 07 2014


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the outcome of the DOE Planners application screening determination, which has concluded that an Environmental Statement is required for the Rathlin Energy application to drill a new test well site at Ballinlea.

Councillor Cunningham said “I am particularly pleased for the Ballinlea Residents group who campaigned to ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment which includes social, economic, environmental and public health impacts is carried out before any planning decision was made”.

Councillor Cunningham continued “The public are still have many concerns around this application , hopefully the Environmental statement will comprehensively inform the decision making process”.

Assembly Question on Ballinlea exploratory bore well

22 03 2014


Proposed On-Shore Oil Well in Ballinlea

 Mr Agnew asked the Minister of the Environment what consideration has been given to the health of residents in the vicinity of the proposed on-shore oil well in Ballinlea (E/2013/0093/F); and whether he is aware of best practice regulations in other locations which require a buffer zone around the vicinity of such developments. AQW( 31531/11-15)

Mr Durkan:

To clarify, application E/2013/0093/F relates to temporary works for the drilling of an exploratory borehole to approx 2700m depth to investigate underground strata for hydrocarbon exploration under DETI licence PL3/10 issued to Rathlin Energy Ltd. The application is not for the commercial exploitation of oil. In relation to the health and safety of the local residents the Department consults with a range of statutory consultees when assessing the impact the proposed development will pose to the local area.

In relation to this application the Department has consulted with environmental agencies within NIEA such as Water Management Unit, Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate and Land and Resource Management who assess the potential impact the development will have to the local land, air  and water environment.

The local Councils Environmental Health Department (EHD) has been consulted and has the remit to assess and comment on noise and air quality impacts. The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) has also been consulted to ensure that on-site operations are conducted in line with health and safety regulations.


The Department also intends to consult with the Public Health Agency upon receipt of information to be submitted in March from the applicant. In terms of best practice, DOE Planning Officials work closely with colleagues in NIEA and in other regulatory agencies to ensure that the development is comprehensively assessed and safeguards are in place to protect the safety and amenity of the public.



Cunningham: Exploratory drilling programme must be fully scrutinised

24 01 2013

Onshore drill to sea 2

SDLP Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has responded with a word of caution to the announcement by Providence the Irish oil and gas exploration company which has found there may be oil potential in the Rathlin Basin.

Mr Cunningham said:“The statement issued by Providence Resources today announcing a future exploratory drilling programme in the offshore Rathlin Basin should be given proper consideration.

“Any proposal must undergo the rigours of a full environmental impact assessment which would examine any possible positive or negative impacts on the environment, consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects. Nothing must be done to disturb either the outstanding beauty or natural character of the area.

“While I welcome the confirmation that “shale gas” is not the target and therefore hydraulic fracturing “fracking” will not be the extraction technique, it is important to ensure that any development is in keeping with our environment”

“More research is required to ascertain the density of the off shore subsurface and its rock properties”

“It would appear most likely at this stage that an exploratory offshore target in the Rathlin Sound would be accessed from the onshore Ballycastle side with nothing visible above the sea surface. Exploratory drilling is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014. Providence has engaged regularly with the Rathlin island community and I now expect this consultation to be extended to the Ballycastle side.”

“I am keen supporter of the neighbouring tidal energy projects at Fair Head and Torr Head as a safe and environmentally friendly measure of providing energy.

“I look forward to Providence engaging in discussions with all relevant parties before embarking on any exploratory drilling programme.”

Rathlin Energy confirm completion of seismic survey

12 07 2012

Commenting  on the news that gas and oil exploration firm Rathlin Energy Ltd has publicly confirmed the completion of its Ballinlea 2012 VSP & 2D seismic survey undertaken by Tesla Exploration International Ltd, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called on the company to make public the results and evaluation of the subsurface geology, and  to declare to the public if it intends to apply for permission to extract shale gas by means of the controversial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process.

“Moyle Council have already expressed their opposition to fracking, a process which  involves the pumping of millions of gallons of water, mixed with hundreds of highly toxic chemicals, thousands of feet deep into the ground.
“Already in the U.S.A, Canada, Europe and Australia, pollution caused by this process to land, to air, to surface water and to groundwater has resulted in a terrible health toll and catastrophic environmental damage.”
“We have to say no to the possibility of fracking, anywhere in the North Coast Rathlin Basin”

Say “NO” to Fracking in the Rathlin Basin

15 01 2012

Hydraulic Fracturing – it goes by the ugly name of “fracking”, and it could be on it’s way to Moyle.
Rathlin Energy – a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian company Connaught Oil & Gas Ltd has been granted a licence from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Industry for oil and gas exploration in the onshore Rathlin Basin (coloured pink on map above).
In year 3 of their operation Rathlin Energy are planning to apply for permission to sink a test bore 2,700 metres deep , in a bid to exploit the shale gas that could be locked in the rocks deep beneath the earth.
If it finds what it hopes, full-scale hydraulic fracturing – to extract the gas could follow. This would unleash an unprecedented environmental threat .
Fracking involves pumping water or other fluids laced with sand or other particles at high pressure into rock formations deep underground. The process fractures the rock and releases shale gas trapped inside. Only some of the gas can then be collected and brought to the surface.
Shale gas extraction poses many actual and potential environmental and human health concerns including groundwater pollution, air pollution, demand for water and impact on climate change. Moyle District Council at their meeting on 20/10/11 unanimously accepted a proposal from Councillor Dónal Cunningham and resolved to oppose the use of hydraulic fracturing in any part of the explorations on Rathlin or in the Rathlin Basin.
We must continue to say NO to the possibility of fracking in the onshore Rathlin Basin.