Thank you for your e-mail.
For those who have raised questions under FOI/EIR, please note that the Department is treating this as normal business.
DOE Planning received notification from Tamboran Resources Ltd on 21 July 2014 detailing their intentions to drill an exploratory borehole to collect rock samples within the Bundoran Shale, under permitted development rights. The company have advised that the proposed operations would last approximately 4 weeks, that it would involve the removal of a rock core sample from the site and does not involve testing or hydraulic fracturing the shale.Part 16 of Schedule 1 to the Planning (General Development) Order (NI) 1993 allows for certain permitted development rights for Mineral Exploration where planning application is not required.
While these permitted development (PD) rights allow development on land in any period not exceeding four months consisting of drilling boreholes, carrying out seismic surveys or making other excavations, there are certain limitations and conditions associated with this temporary permitted development right including pre-commencement notification to the Department of the Environment. It is important to note that the temporary permitted development rights for minerals exploration do not allow the commercial extraction of minerals, including petroleum.
Based on the information received, officials will assess all elements of the proposal and determine whether or not the scheme falls within the parameters of permitted development or whether the proposal should be made subject to the full planning application process. An Environmental Impact Assessment screening determination will also be made by the Department which will consider any significant impacts the development may pose. The Minister has stressed to officials that this screening process is rigorous and definitive and that if any aspect of this exploratory drilling is likely to have a significant impact on the environment, permission to proceed will not be given. Should the Department determine that the operations pose a significant impact to the environment, permitted development rights would be removed and the operations would be subject to the full planning process and will also be accompanied with an Environmental Statement.
No decisions have been taken in relation to permitting unconventional hydraulic fracturing. No planning application or applications for environmental permissions have yet been received by the Department and any future applications will be considered in a very robust manner.
Please note that in addition to assessing the limitations and conditions associated with temporary permitted development associated with this scheme, the Department is also investigating a number of reported breaches in planning control and health and safety arrangements associated with the current site arrangement.
SPD Admin [SPDAdmin@doeni.gov.uk]
Strategic Planning Division
Letters were sent to:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Private, Office DOE; DETI Mail (DETI); email@example.com; arlene.foster@MLA.niassembly.gov.uk; Hamilton, Stephen (PLANNING); Planning Service HQ; Divisional Planning Office Enniskillen
To whom it may concern:
I wish to notify you of unauthorised developments currently being undertaken by Tamboran resources Ltd. At Belcoo Co. Fermanagh.
The energy company circulated a letter to local residents informing them of their intention to drill a test borehole of 700m plus depth for the purposes of collecting rock samples etc. at this location.
It now transpires as a result of enquiry that the company have misinformed the local community that they had actual consent from the relevant authorities to undertake this work.
I ask that this letter being taken as notification of a complaint and the proper enforcement proceedings be initiated immediately, including the requirement for the company to remove all equipment etc. from this site and their personnel as they are in breach of planning laws and this development has not undergone appropriate assessment and may have a significant negative impact on the local environment.
I trust that you will give your immediate attention to this matter.
Dear Minister Durkan,
PLEASE TREAT THIS AS URGENT!!
Coming from the Netherlands and living in Ireland for over a decade, I feel we should protect Ireland against development that will harm the people, the country and its beauty. Please read my concerns and requests below.
I appreciate the pressure you are under as a politician and that this is one of many issues being currently managed within your department.
I implore you minister, to follow in the footsteps of other great leaders within your party who took difficult decisions, despite the personal and political costs.
This is your one great opportunity to protect the future of NI and to go down in the history books as the man who had the courage to take a stand and to stop unconventional development before it was too late. In reaching out your hand to protect and safeguard, you have the ability to set the precedent on both sides of the border.
I welcome your commitment last week to be “rigorous and definitive” in assessing the notification by Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd to carry out exploratory drilling at Belcoo. I am hopeful that you will give this letter the serious consideration it deserves.
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.