And so it begins…

Aerial survey of coastal area to take place next week

An easily recognisable fixed wing aircraft is set to fly over Limavady, Coleraine, Moyle and Ballymoney  during week commencing 20th February 2012 collecting data on underground rocks and minerals.

The airborne survey managed by Rathlin Energy Limited, will be collecting scientific data across the north coast area – from Limavady to Moyle – during two days of flying.

It is hoped that the information gathered will help provide understanding of natural resources and inform potential commercial investment plans in the North West.

Weather permitting, the twin engine survey aircraft will take off from Enniskillen Airport and fly in straight parallel lines across the region using specialist instruments to collect data on the gravity and magnetic properties of the earth.

The instrument is entirely passive, it emits no signals and there are no harmful gases or liquids contained within.

Tom Selkirk, from Rathlin Energy Limited said:

“This project is part of Rathlin’s ongoing exploration effort and is designed to help us develop a better understanding of the structure of the onshore portion of the Rathlin Basin. The data will be integrated with other existing datasets, including the TELLUS aeromag data to help increase our level of confidence in our subsurface mapping.

“Our expert pilots, flying with approval and authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority, will be at an approximate height of 80 metres over rural countryside and at 100 metres across urban areas – that’s six times higher than a two storey house.

“Rathlin Energy is engaging with interested parties, including farming and business communities, to inform them of the project’s developments.”

An extensive awareness-raising campaign involving schools, farming and equine organisations and other relevant parties is currently underway.

The aircraft being used in the survey is a white twin-engine Douglas DC-3 with a distinctive blue stripe and will fly:

  • in daylight hours
  • mostly in an east and west line orientation
  • along lines spaced 500m apart at a speed of approximately 130mph, with a noise similar to that of a passing lorry
  • over some border areas in Donegal

Anyone requiring further detail about the project can contact the Rathlin Energy hotline on 028 9034 7319.

For media enquiries please contact Stephen McGrath at Weber Shandwick on 028 9034 7300 / 079 8947 5561


PR for Rathlin Energy Ltd

Rathlin Energy Ltd are now using PR firm Weber Shandwick. This is the same PR firm used by Tamboran (the company wanting to use fracking in Fermanagh and Leitrim). Weber Shandwick has previously undertaken work to help:

  • the Chinese government in ‘separating its human-rights record from its Olympics bid’
  • the ExxonMobil corporation with ‘greening’ itself
  • British Nuclear Fuels with their image problems
  • British American Tobacco with their image problems, and
  • The Japanese Whaling Association with their image problems.

What a fantastic turnout!

Well it was a great night in Ballycastle (Tues 7th Feb). About 90 people came out to see Gasland and hear the speakers talking about fracking and what it could mean for us along the North Coast. I’m not sure when the Ferry Terminal or any public meeting in Ballycastle last saw that many people. Thank You all very much for coming out!

The great turnout showed just how interested local people are in finding out more about what fracking is and why it is something we should be concerned about along the North Coast. The meeting attracted people from across the Rathlin Basin (the licenced area), not just residents of Ballycastle. Residents from Ballymoney asked for a similar meeting to be held there, and it looks like some local residents have already begun planning for that.

It was unfortunate that the Rathlin Energy Ltd. company directors were not able to attend. They may have been able to provide more information about their plans or allay residents concerns about the possibility of fracking happening here. The short statement from the company said:

“Rathlin Energy Limited is committed to openness and transparency in relation to every aspect of our activities and operations. We will be engaging widely with the local community in relation to our plans as they are developed.” 

When asked to provide reassurance that they would not be undertaking fracking in the area, they said:

“We are not at the point of being able fully to assess the opportunities and challenges of our acreage. When we are ready we will share our plans with the local community and the authorities which guide and regulate us.”

The speakers give us a great insight into the current situation in Northern Ireland with regard to the current licences, the process the companies need to go through to undertake fracking, the political and legal situation, the regulatory system, how well the regulatory system in Northern Ireland works (or doesn’t!), and the reality of what happens in practice. They all urged the public to get involved by lobbying politicians – elected representatives at all levels, from local councillors to MLAs, and Arlene Foster. A member of the audience reminded us to also lobby our MPs, and our MEPs, who play a significant role at the European level.

We need to let them know how we feel about fracking, ask them questions, encourage them to become more educated about it themselves, and about what it actually means for Northern Ireland…not what the companies tell us it means. Remember, these are foreign companies with one aim only – making profit! They will own the gas if they are allowed to extract it, and they can and will sell it to the highest bidder internationally, and at what cost to us? They are not here to provide a public good to the people of Northern Ireland.

A big thank you to all the people who helped out to make the evening happen – especially  the Ballycastle Film Club and Moyle District Council – you did a great job. And thanks again to all of the speakers, Cllr Donal Cunningham (SDLP), Steven Agnew MLA (Green Party), Niall Bakewell from Friends of the Earth, independent researcher Dr Aedin McLoughlin from Co. Leitrim, Jim Donaghy from No To Fracking, Vice Chair of Moyle District Council (MDC) Cllr Sandra Hunter (UUP), Chair of the MDC Cllr Padraig McShane (Ind), Cllr Cara McShane (SF) and Daithi McKay MLA (SF).  Please note that all North Antrim MLAs were invited to participate, as were all parties represented on Moyle District Council.

A special thank you also to the provider of pure irish mountain spring water for the event, the Glens of Antrim Spring Water Company!

Dr. Aedin McLoughlin joining us in Ballycastle

Dr. Aedin McLoughlin from Co Leitrim will also be joining us at the Gasland screening and discussion event tonight – yes it will be a busy evening!

Dr Aedin McLoughlin, has been raising awareness on fracking all over Ireland. She has qualifications in biochemistry, cancer research, industrial microbiology and ecotourism.

She has been a facilitator and co-ordinator of EU funded and Interreg cross-border projects, and she currently works as a Rural Enabler for Co Leitrim funded by Peace III.