Northern Ireland news

Resident to launch new goldmine legal action

Greencastle resident Martin Tracey is set to launch legal action over a planned goldmine in Co Tyrone
Connla Young

A Co Tyrone man opposed to goldmine plans in the Sperrin Mountains is set to launch legal action against a Stormont department on human rights grounds.

Greencastle resident Martin Tracey is taking action after a planning application by Canadian firm Dalradian Gold was submitted to the Department of Infrastructure (DFI).

Department officials were sent a pre-action letter last month but have yet to respond.

Mr Tracey's lawyer Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, claimed in the letter that DFI has not taken any steps to assess the “risks posed with the proposed project contrary to its obligations pursuant to the Human Rights Act”.

Dalradian wants to build a processing plant which will use cyanide to remove gold from ore mined in the area.

Some local people are strongly opposed to the mine plan on health and environmental grounds.

The firm insists the process is safe.

Mr Mackin said the state has “a positive duty to protect health and life of the population from foreseeable risks from dangerous industrial activities”.

Areas of concern include that the "proposed application poses a risk to life, risk of inhuman and degrading treatment, his right to a private life and enjoyment of his property".

All these issues are covered under articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Tracey has raised concerns about plans to use cyanide in the mining process and claims the DFI has not yet carried out a risk assessment.

Other concerns cite the possibility of radon disturbance, zinc deposits and the impact on the nearby Owenreagh and Owenkillew rivers, as well as diesel usage and potential noise pollution.

Both Dalradian and some political parties have previously supported calls for a public inquiry.

The firm has insisted it is proposing a safe project that "meets or exceeds strict environmental standards", as well as bringing widespread economic and social benefits.

However, Mr Tracey last night demanded an “independent regional inquiry into gold mining led by globally recognized experts to highlight critical implications for public health”.

He said he has “no choice but to lodge a critical legal challenge against the Department of Infrastructure on the grounds of breaches of human rights”.

A spokeswoman for DFI said: “The department can confirm that a letter has been received.

“The department will be responding shortly.”

Meanwhile, a community group based in the Greencastle area is appealing a High Court decision to throw out a separate legal challenge brought earlier this year.

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