For the reasons outlined in the template letter below we believe that it is possible to stop this now. Once again we need your help to lobby Minister Mark H Durkan. Please read and send the letter below. If you have time you can make your submission more powerful by including your personal view. But if not just copy, paste send, volume counts too.
Minister Durkan ‘Do the Right Thing!
Please copy and send this letter today.
Dear Minister Durkan,
I was heartened by your department’s recent determination, after lengthy deliberations, that an EIA was required for the Rathlin Energy Ltd application for an exploratory borehole at Ballinlea (E/2013/0093/F).
Given that Tamboran is already on-site at Belcoo, assuming permitted development rights, and potentially already having an environmental impact by undertaking works and drilling monitoring wells, I urge you to apply the precautionary principle, issue a Stop notice immediately, and determine that an EIA is required in this case.
In this regard, I understand there are now a number of options available to you that I ask to be considered:
1. Your assessment of the EIA determination must be positive (and therefore planning permission is required) on the basis that significant impacts on the environment are likely. This is because of (a) previous significant impacts in earlier developments in the wider quarry complex and the cumulative impacts that need to be considered with this new proposed activity (b) the complex hydrology of the site and the serious risk of contamination to surface and groundwater (c) the need to establish baseline data in an EIA particularly as a result of unauthorised retrospective development on the site and intensification of activity over the last decade (d) the outstanding environmental information has yet to be provided to inform hydrogeological assessments, impacts on fauna and a Habitats Regulations Assessment for the two unapproved applications. Indeed, Acheson and Glover in their submission letter for the two concurrent planning applications (L/2013/0524/F and L/2013/0525/F) on 23 September 2013 have admitted “there have been significant environmental impacts” and a previous EIA is in existence for the wider quarry complex.
2. Issue an Article 4 or Article 6 direction (General Development Order 1993) that withdraws permitted development rights in the interests of local amenity and the sensitive hydrology of the site and recognising that permitted development is only meant to apply to minor and non-contentious developments.
3. As a burn flows from this site to the Republic of Ireland and there a complex and fractured geology in this area you must fulfil requirements for full transboundary liaison with the Republic of Ireland government over the hydrological risk to Lough Macnean and the wider catchment and conclude any final assessment of the anticipated EIA is premature until the joint NIEA/EPA report is concluded.
4. Enforce immediately against the site by issuing a Stop Notice as planning permission expired in September 2013 for mining activity thereby sending a signal that the lack of existing regulation cannot be used as a precedent for exploratory drilling.
5. By asking for planning permission and an EIA you will be honouring the opportunity for transparent public participation under the Aarhus convention, helping to defuse an escalating situation and fulfilling the obligations of the precautionary principle.
6. Publish immediately on your website the notification by Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd to enable the public to understand the nature of the exploratory drilling and the use of materials to be used in the drilling process.
Thank you for your time and looking forward to your response.
Department of Environment
44 – 58 May Street
Department of Enterprise,
Trade and Investment
1–7 Bedford Street