You can still object to planning!

Rathlin Energy Ltd has now submitted an Environmental Statement, outlining the findings of their Environmental Impact Assessment, as requested by the Planning Service.
To see the new documents please click here: Planning
and follow the links through Impact Assessments and Statements.

To object to the planning application, please write your concerns, quoting the file number (E/2013/0093/F), and either:

• email (PLEASE NOTE! When using the button below, you will need to update the generated email with your objections and contact details prior to submission)

Object to planning
mineralsenquiries@doeni.gov.uk
or
• print out and post to:

Mr Hamilton
Principal Planning Officer
Strategic Planning Division
Causeway Exchange, 1- 7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG

If you’d like to also send your objection to MLAs, newspapers, councillors etc, please do.

You can easily write to your own elected representatives (at all levels) through www.writetothem.com, or simply add your Postcode to the box at the bottom of this page.

 

Points of objection for you to think about

The objections people have to this proposed exploratory well development at Ballinlea, Co. Antrim are many and varied. A few are listed below as a guide for your own objection letter/email. Please feel free to use them as pointers, but PLEASE personalise your objections to make them your own—they will also be given more individual attention by the planners if they are not ‘generic’.

* DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS *

1.       Public Health

Rathlin Energy’s Environmental Statement says that “On the basis that no detrimental health effects are predicted [by them], no health monitoring scheme is warranted if the proposed project goes ahead.”  This conclusion demonstrates:

  • a lack of learning on the part of the company which experienced unexpected problems at its site in East Yorkshire with odours causing health complaints from local residents, which it later acknowledged[1]
  • a lack of knowledge of the latest information on the health impacts of shale gas drilling and air emissions to emerge in the international public health research literature, which finds, for example, that people living within half a mile of gas wells are at  greater risk of health impacts than those further away[2], and
  • a clear lack of regard for local residents.

Question: What systems are in place in Northern Ireland, or will be put in place, to monitor the health of local people living in the vicinity of this well to ensure that they do not suffer any adverse health outcomes as a result of this well? Surely the health of the local population of human beings deserves as much consideration and protection as the flora, fauna, and waterways, and in fact is this protection not enshrined in law?

2.      Shale exploration

This well is to be drilled to a depth of 2,700m, into the shale layer described by the Geological Survey of NI in Rathlin Energy’s Environmental Statement as, “2450m Carboniferous Visean Murlough Bay Formation is the equivalent to the Bowland Shale and is a possible source rock for the region. It is a potential target for shale gas development in the region.”

Since “The NI Executive policy on shale gas exploration is pending on-going research,”[3] no shale gas wells should be drilled at least until that research (the joint North /South, NIEA/EPA research) has been completed and policy developed.

Question: Given that no Strategic Environmental Assessment has been undertaken of the introduction of the unconventional gas industry into Northern Ireland, and no policy has been agreed by the Executive on shale gas, why is an exploration well into shale even allowed to be the subject of a planning application, at this time?

3.       Waste disposal

The hazardous ‘flowback’ water  produced by this development may contain Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs), heavy metals and other toxins.

Question: Where will the waste be transported to for disposal, given the lack of an appropriate facility in Northern Ireland?

4.       Proximity to homes

This development would not be allowed in Fort Worth, Texas where the setback distance of wells from homes is 182m, or in Dallas Texas where it is 457m. There is no setback distance in Northern Ireland.  This is probably related to the lack of Strategic Environmental Assessment and policy relating to shale gas wells in Northern Ireland, although there is no setback distance in NI for non-shale wells either.

Question: How can we in Northern Ireland be given less protection than residents of the Texas, when our regulations are lauded (by our government) as being more robust?

5.       Impact on the River Bush

A significant release of pollutants by Rathlin Energy could have a catastrophic impact on the fisheries ecology within the catchment of the River Bush as the Ballinlea site is extremely close to one of its tributaries. Rathlin Energy has failed to provide adequate measures for preventing the release of pollutants or developing a sufficiently rigorous system for monitoring and review.

Question: How will the Department of the Environment ensure that the protected species in the River Bush are in fact protected?

6.       General inadequacy

Rathlin Energy’s proposed mitigation of risks is not supported with sufficient scientifically robust data, appropriate research or other evidence. The Environmental Statement provides inadequate analysis and reassurance across many sections.

Question: How will the Department of the Environment ensure that ALL of the risks associated with this proposed development, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, are adequately assessed and that ALL of the claims made by Rathlin Energy are fully analysed for robustness?

I do not want this development to be approved.  I urge you to reject this application.



[2] McKenzie LM, Witter RZ, Newman LS, Adgate JL. Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources. Sci Total Environ 2012; 424: 79-87

[3] NIEA, Letter to Concerned Resident, 11 September 2014.

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