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NI Water carries out 'essential work' near oil site as two reservoirs closed during project

Protesters have maintained their presence at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus for several weeks. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

RESIDENTS living around the site of an exploratory oil drill project in Co Antrim have been informed that there may be disruption to water supplies today as "essential work" is carried out by Northern Ireland Water.

The disruption for residents near Woodburn Forest in Carrickfergus is expected to be effective from 9am to 4pm today.

It comes just days after NI Water confirmed that it has put two reservoirs out of service for the duration of the project, located within 350 metres of the site, which is operated by InfraStrata.

At a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on Monday night, NI Water, which leased the site to InfraStrata, repeated its assurances that the project will not compromise the water supply.

It has previously said it has "no concerns about water quality."

In the last few weeks there have been two minor oil spills at the site, according to statutory agencies.

In the latest spill in April, the Environment Agency said "no source" had been identified for the "minor volume of fuel or hydraulic oil."

Those objecting to the drill are concerned about the potential impact on water supplies provided by Woodburn reservoir to thousands of homes across Co Antrim.

Entrance to the site is now restricted, with protesters congregrating across the road.

A judicial review brought by campaigners is due to be heard in the High Court on May 6.

The Stop the Drill campaign group said it believed that a leak in March was caused by an excavator being used to secure fencing on the site, where exploratory drilling is expected to begin in May.

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