Council report dismisses complaints by resident living near oil drill

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has dismissed complaints made by a resident about the Woodburn Forest project. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

A COUNCIL report into an exploratory oil drill has not upheld any complaints made by a local resident against InfraStrata, campaigners have claimed.

The protesters say that in the report, which has yet to be made public, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have dismissed the complaints.

It is unclear when the report into the site at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus will be made available to the public.

"The report by council claims no stones were laid at the entrance and the track is the same width as it was originally," a source said.

Last Friday, the High Court in Belfast was told that the council would issue a decision on areas of complaint by Monday or Tuesday.

However, the council said on Tuesday that it was "unable to comment".

A spokesman said: "Due to there being a further session of the previously adjourned judicial review on Thursday 19th May, council is unable to comment at this point."

InfraStrata, the company behind the project, confirmed that drilling had begun in a statement on Monday and has said the work will take around six weeks to complete.

Environmental protesters, who have expressed concerns about the potential effect on supplies of drinking water, have set up a camp on the edge of the site with one man arrested last week after he attempted to stop drilling by chaining himself to a crane.

Sinn Féin East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan said it was "concerning" that drilling had begun.

"There are genuine concerns in the local community around Woodburn Forest about the potential impact this drilling could have on the environment ... this issue should be a priority for the new Executive," he said.

The CEO of InfraStrata, Andrew Hindle, said that the plans would benefit the local economy by "an estimated £1 million" and added that the company were committed to "completing this project in an environmentally responsible and safe manner and will seek to minimise disruption for local residents at all times."

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