Stop the Drill – action and meeting

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Please support events to Stop the Drill this week.


Please come to the Woodburn Forest on Monday morning 15th February. We believe oil company InfraStrata plans to commence work beside major water reservoir (North Woodburn Reservoir) with no Waste Management Plan in place.


Public Meeting, The Windrose, Rodgers Quay, Carrickfergus, Co.Antrim BT38 8BE at 7pm on Wednesday 17th Feb 2016.

Despite intense lobbying and questioning we ended the week with no answers from the Mid and East Antrim Council so we have to assume Infrastrata may plan to go on site (as stated at the recent planning meeting)  on Monday without Waste Management Plan approval.

We are calling for a peaceful, positive show of opposition from 9am on or earlier if you can be there.

Site directions:

Directions to Woodburn Forest drill site.
Coming from northwest Antrim ; Leave Belfast bound M2 @ Templepatrick / Airport slip. Turn left for Doagh, Ballyclare, Larne. Follow signs to Carrickfergus taking 2nd exit @ Ballynure r’about. This is the Ballynure bypass, follow this road for approx 3 -4 miles turning right onto The New Line.( signed for Carrickfergus) follow for approx 1mile taking 2nd right onto Paisley Road.There is no road sign but you will pass Woodburn reservoir on the right just before left turn to Paisley Road.The site enterance is approx 700 yds on left. Sat Nav post code. BT38 9AH.

Coming from north coast, head to Belfast turning left at Ballynure, follow above directions from here.

Coming from Belfast, head out M5 for Carrickfergus. Continue to Carrick turning left @ Mc Donalds onto Prospect Rd. Head to very top approx 2 miles. Turn left and then right (approx 200yds) onto New Line. 3rd turn on right is Paisley Road(approx 2 miles)
If you are tweeting please use the hashtag #StopTheDrill

More information and object:

Get the latest information from our Facebook page DontDrillAntrimWater.
Stand up for your right to safe and clean drinking water. Say no to NI Water leasing our water catchment area to oil company Infrastrata.

Recent news:

During a planning committee meeting at Mid and East Antrim (MEA) Council on the 4th February 2016 it was announced that InfraStrata had written to the Council to advise that it intended to commence drilling at Woodburn Forest,Carrickefergus on 15th Feb 2016.

At the same meeting Paul Duffy Head of Planning admitted that his department had failed to consider the waste management plan.

On the 20th of January 2016, the Stop the Drill Campaign contacted the Department of Environment (DOE) and the Mid and East Antrim Council and asked for a copy of the Waste Assessment Plan.
Mr. Duffy admitted that the Waste Management plan hasn’t yet been approved and that “The consideration of a Waste Management Plan involves a similar process to that of assessing a Planning Application in that it needs to be advertised and consultations undertaken before a decision can be made to approve or refuse the plan. However unlike assessing a Planning Application there is no mechanism within the planning portal for managing the process. As such consideration will have to be given as to how this process will be undertaken.”
However in a move that has shocked the Stop the Drill Campaign on Tuesday the 9th February InfraStrata were delivering letters to local residents to advise of their intention to come on site next week.
Stop the Drill submitted a legal letter to the Council on the 9th February.

We asked how can the company go onsite next week? We require a clear and unequivocal undertaking from the Council that:

  1.       It would write to InfraStrata advising that the Council would view any attempt to commence drilling prior to the grant of approval of the Waste Management Plan and that the Council will issue a Stop Notice if the Company attempts to commence drilling; and
  2.       It will issue a stop notice if Infrastrata commence drilling prior to the approval of a Waste Management Plan.

Stop the Drill Statement: The Council have finally accepted that all the permits to drill specifically the assessment of Mining Waste Plan (Mining Wastes Assessment) are not in place. The process for considering a Waste Management Plan is set out in ‘The Planning of Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2015’.
We are very concerned that thousands of kilograms of toxic chemicals including 24,000kg of Barium Sulphate will be stored in a water catchment area and that in their 50 year Exploration Agreement with NI Water allowing for multiple wells, Infrastrata have “the right to re inject Petroleum, water and any other fluids into the Site and under the Site and the Landlord’s Premises which arise as a result of Petroleum, exploration development, transportation, extraction and/or production of Petroleum originating from any well or wells from time to time upon the Site.”

Now we learn that the Waste Management Plan has not been approved.

Paul Duffy stated last week that ‘The obvious implications for Infrastrata is that to meet the legislative requirements to have a Waste Management Plan approved prior to work onsite may delay their proposed commencement date and members may be aware that the online petition against the drilling at Woodburn has been reactivated.’

Despite all our attempts to communicate with the Council we have no clear answers and we believe now that Infrastrata will attempt to go onsite on Monday morning.

The Stop the Drill Campaign submitted the Burroughs Report to the Council on the 5th November 2015. The report was commissioned by the campaign group from highly respected independent planning consultants Michael Burroughs Associates with funding raised from a crowdfunder appeal. Burroughs Associates have contacted the Council several times and received no response.

Last Thursday Mr Duffy stated “Last night the Council received the legal advice which we have been waiting on – on the issues that were raised with the Michael Burroughs letter. The legal advice was only received last night so ultimately that has to be considered – that will now take place.”
The Burroughs Report is a 46 page report which raises many issues. Link here:

Click here for link to the Burroughs Report
Three months later the Council have only just received the legal advice on the document and have committed to consider this. Why have the Council taken 3 months to seek this advice?

Stop the Drill have been asking to meet and present to the MEA Council since the 29th May 2015 following the transfer of planning powers to local government. We were advised in June 2015 that the Council ‘did not have a duty to review’. This Council must now commit to allow the Stop the Drill Campaign to present to the Council so that we can bring in our researchers and experts to advise the Council and protect the water supply of 131,000+ people.
As a stakeholder with responsibility for protecting our water and with their conflicting role as a landlord who have a 50 year agreement in place allowing Infrastrata to drill in a water catchment area beside a major reservoir the Stop the Drill Campaign is calling for an immediate public statement from NI Water.
Infrastrata for their part have claimed on a number of occasions that all permits were in place to allow them to drill. This is NOT the case. This is untrue.

DETI stated in its Update to ETI that the Licensees have “obtained all necessary consents”. Clearly this is not the case.

As highlighted recently, DETI have granted the company Infrastrata another five year licence despite them not having fulfilled the terms of the initial licence including not having acquired all the requisite regulatory permissions.
This week Steven Agnew (Green Party) proposed a petition to refer the decision by Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to vary the terms and conditions of the licence to the Executive Committee. The petition received the full support of Stewart Dickson MLA and the Alliance Party.

The initial 5-year petroleum license was granted by the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Investment (DETI) on 4th March 2011 without any public consultation and without a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) having been carried out.

We are very concerned that Infrastrata’s interest in the licence started out at 45%; it will be reduced to a pitiful 10% for the next five years. How can a company holding a 10% interest be allowed to hold this licence? There will now be eight companies with interests in the licence with Infrastrata bringing on board five new companies. Some of the companies are less than 2 years old; one of them, Petro River UK Limited, was set up on 7th January 2016.

Stop the Drill wrote to DETI on the 22nd Dec 15 questioning the legality of extending the licence and asking questions about the financial viability of companies with interests in the licence. We are still awaiting a response to these questions.