For Immediate Release

Press Release:

Press release – from Protect Our North Coast (PONC)
Canadian-owned Oil and Gas Company, Rathlin Energy Ltd, conducts Environmental Impact Assessment – Time for the public to respond.

The public now has four weeks to submit comments on, or objections to, an impact assessment submitted to the planning department by Rathlin Energy Ltd, the company applying to drill an oil/gas exploration well into the shale layer at Ballinlea, in Co. Antrim—half-way between Ballintoy Harbour and the Dark Hedges, on Northern Ireland’s increasingly popular ‘Game of Thrones’ tourist trail. The Planning Service determined that there could be significant environmental impacts from the proposal (planning application E/2013/0093/F), and informed Rathlin Energy Ltd that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be required. The EIA report is now on the planning service website (link below) and is also available in hard copy at the Moyle Council offices in Ballycastle.

Local residents and Protect Our North Coast (PONC) members are concerned about the potential impacts this well could have on public health. Oil and gas wells are known to emit toxic, carcinogenic air emissions through the flaring and venting of gases, producing toxins with no safe limits such as benzene. Recent research has shown that people living within half a mile of gas wells are at a greater risk for health effects due to the air emissions from flaring and venting, than those who live more than half a mile away.[1] 43 homes are within half a mile of the Ballinlea well site, and residents warn that this could be the first of many across the North Coast.
Of particular concern is that the company sees no need to even monitor for possible negative health effects. The impact assessment states that: “On the basis that no detrimental health effects are predicted, no health monitoring scheme is warranted if the proposed project goes ahead.”

Local people are of the view that if Rathlin Energy Ltd really cared about what the local community thinks (as they said they did at their public meetings in 2013) then they would be more than happy to take their health concerns seriously and reassure them by proposing to undertake health impact monitoring.

One local resident, Brian Connolly, said, “This is a true insight into the nature of this company and how they regard the local community. We, or rather our public representatives, are being asked to accept the word of the company and that there will be no risks to health, nor dangers to the community, no threats to our well-being or that of the environment, just because they say so. Without proper independent monitoring we will be unable to prove that we have been adversely affected by their activities. They cannot then be regulated or shut down as no data will exist by which a decision of this nature can be taken. It is very clear from the quote above, that they do not feel we, the local community, warrant a proper monitoring of their activities. It is worse than farcical; it is a bare faced disregard for this community and downright insulting to those who live in the vicinity.”

Residents and the Protect Our North Coast (PONC) group would urge everyone who lives in Rathlin Energy’s petroleum licence area (which covers a large area from Ballycastle, through Ballintoy, Bushmills, Portballintrae, Portrush, Portstewart, Coleraine, Castlerock to Magilligan, down to Limavady, Macosquin, Aghadowey, and Garvagh and up through Ballymoney and Dervock, Mosside, Stranocum, Ballybogy, Ballyrashane etc.) to look into the proposed exploratory well, because, they say, more wells could appear, through permitted development, anywhere in the licence area. The company has said it would like to have 4 wells every square mile if they find normal conventional oil. Many more would be required for unconventional shale gas development which is also a possibility, as the company has said it is exploring all prospects.
You can join us on the (PONC) facebook page to keep up to date, and follow us on twitter @PONC_NI. #ProtectOurNorthCoast
The Environmental Impact Assessment documents for consultation on file E/2013/0093/F are available online by following this link through to ‘associated documents’, and ‘impact assessment’ documents:, or going to the Moyle Council offices to see a paper copy. Digital copies on CD can also be purchased for £5 from RPS Consultants (agents for Rathlin Energy Ltd) Tel: 028 9066 7914.


Notes for Editors:
[1] 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.

Protect Our North Coast (PONC) is a campaigning group based on the North Coast of Northern Ireland raising awareness of Petroleum License PL3/10 which is held by Rathlin Energy Limited. The license areas covers Rathlin Basin which includes parts of Counties Antrim and Londonderry/Derry.

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