Northern Ireland

Council supports Greencastle gold mine public enquiry calls

Canadian firm Dalradian Gold has scrapped plans to use cyanide at a proposed mine in CoTyrone
Canadian firm Dalradian Gold has scrapped plans to use cyanide at a proposed mine in CoTyrone Canadian firm Dalradian Gold has scrapped plans to use cyanide at a proposed mine in CoTyrone

Mid Ulster District Council is to write to the Department of Infrastructure outlining its agreement that an application for a gold mine needs to be subject to a public enquiry.

The mine project at Greencastle was originally submitted by the company Dalradian in 2017.

Speaking at Mid Ulster District Council’s July meeting of the planning committee, Council’s head of planning Dr Chris Boomer, said a public enquiry is the way forward for this application.

“It looks like Dalradian is changing its proposal, wether it will change it again, I have not sought any assurance but they are claiming they are no longer going to be using cyanide,” he informed members.

“This has been the key issue and would make them fall out big time with our planning policy which takes a safety first approach.

“Ultimately, my view is this planning application needs to be subject to a public enquiry.

“When we wrote our report that was our conclusion. I understand since then the Minister has stolen our thunder, at the weekend the Minister announced they feel there should be a public enquiry.

“We need to write back and say we would agree this needs to be subject ot the public enquiry. We have an awful lot of concerns about any local gold mining and the risks need to be fully explored through the mechanisms of the public enquiry.”

Noting that there were more than 40,000 objectors to the proposal SDLP Councillor Christine McFlynn welcomed the report and the calls for the public enquiry.

The councillor also made a proposal to have a senior member of the planning team and legal representation at the enquiry.

“The residents of Mid Ulster want to see us being active on this and they need guidane as well so we need to be fully represented at that public enquiry,” said Councillor McFlynn.

In response to this, Dr Boomer reminded members the gold mine is not within the bounds of Mid Ulster, rather Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and said he strongly believes it is that Council that needs to take the lead.

“That said I have no qualms at all about the notion that we will attend the public examination and say what our concerns are and that they need to be addressed but I would need guidance from this committee when the time comes,” said Dr Boomer who said the issue could be revisited nearer the time.

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, welcomed the enquiry and said: “While sometimes we may think it is not our place, we need to do that right thing on behalf of our base.

“In terms of mining and the industry we are talking about, if they thought there was a better vein in Mid Ulster then these guys will hold back at nothing to try and achieve that.

“Like Councillor McFlynn said, there is a piece of work to do on this, I am not sure how we take it forward. We need to have a wider conversation and it should come back as an agenda item for us to discuss fully.”

Councillor Sean Clarke said that if the mine was to be approved, the obvious impact it would have as far as Mid Ulster is concerned is in the dark skies area.

“This site is on the ridge of the dark skies area and it would be lit up around the clock that is just one impact it would have on our area.,” said Councillor Clarke.

“It is a good suggestion that we set up a group to look at it and there will be time to do it because it the enquiry is not going to happen too quick.”

A proposal was put forward to have Dr Boomer write to the Department welcoming the public enquiry by Councillor Gavin Bell and it was seconded by Councillor Christine McFlynn.