Good news for Fermanagh (and Leitrim) last night
The news went out at 6pm that the Minister had terminated Tamboran’s exploration licence. Their initial licence was for three years, during which time they were to do some works, including drilling a borehole and analysing rock samples. In March 2014 they requested a six-month extension on this licence to allow them time to do the work (until 30th September). In July they arrived on site in Belcoo with the intention of drilling the 1,200m borehole in the Acheson and Glover quarry, setting off an extensive protest by residents, farmers and campaigners, together with a 24-hour camp at the quarry entrance.
No drilling rig arrived. Instead, it was discovered by campaigners that the quarry did not have planning permission for activities that had already taken place – excavation, blasting, removal of rock. Also, there were questions over the environmental impacts of these activities on a stream that runs from the quarry into Lough MacNean. An EIS was called for and many representations were made to the Minister for Environment, Mark H. Durkan. On August 11th, the Minister made the decision that an EIS would indeed be required, given the quarry’s planning situation.
Now, time has run out for Tamboran.
On 30th September their licence expired and the Minister Arlene Foster has not allowed another extension but has terminated the licence. GREAT NEWS FOR THE CAMPAIGN!
However, we have to strike a note of caution. FRACKING HAS NOT GONE AWAY! It was pointed out to us last night that
- Tamboran are looking for a judicial review of the decisions made by the two Ministers. It’s not over until this is completed.
The Minister said that someone else could apply next week – Northern Ireland is still open for business. However, if there was a new application, it would have to include a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which includes public consultation and certainly would delay the project considerably.
AND, of course, Ballinlea and Carrickfergus are still in the line of fire. Our attention must focus on them immediately; the campaign must get behind what the local groups are doing and give them all the support we can.