Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan, has rejected Tamboran Resources Ltd’s assertion that they could drill an exploratory borehole in a quarry in Belcoo, Fermanagh under Permitted Development Rights (PDR).
His press release says:
“The Department of the Environment received notification from Australian Mining Company Tamboran of their intention to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry, Belcoo on 21 July 2014. The company sought confirmation that this work could be carried out under current permitted development rights without the need for full planning permission as part of their ongoing exploration into the viability of extracting shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in County Fermanagh.
Minister Durkan stated: “I have given very careful consideration to Tamboran’s proposal to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry near Belcoo and whether this is permitted development under current legislation. I have concluded that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply. In making this assessment I have been mindful of my Department’s responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times and that full consideration is give to any likely significant environmental impacts of such a proposal.
“I have concerns that this is an existing quarry where unauthorised extraction has taken place. I believe there is insufficient information to establish what environmental impacts may have already arisen as a result of these unauthorised activities. Therefore, it is not possible to assess the environmental impact of the drilling cumulatively with other unknown environmental impacts of unregulated activity.
“In arriving at this decision I believe I must proceed on the basis of a precautionary principle. This principle establishes that a risk exists if it cannot be excluded on the basis of objective information and in the case of doubt as to the absence of significant effects then a full Environmental Assessment should be carried out. I have therefore concluded this is EIA development requiring full planning permission with an accompanying Environmental Statement and current permitted development rights do not apply.” “
“Notes to editors:
- Tamboran Resources were granted a Petroleum Licence by DETI in 2011 in relation to their proposals to explore the viability of extracting shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in County Fermanagh.
- Under current planning Legislation there are certain permitted development rights under Part 16 of the Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 (as amended) in relation to Mineral Exploration including drilling boreholes.
- Permitted development rights do not apply to the extraction of any hydrocarbons.
- In considering the issue of permitted development in such cases DOE must determine whether or not the development would constitute EIA development under the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. If any development proposal is considered to have likely significant environmental impacts then it is development requiring full planning permission to be accompanied by an Environmental Statement and permitted development rights do not apply.
- If any development is deemed to be EIA development under the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment ) Regulations 2012 then permitted development rights do not apply.
- DOE is considering retrospective planning applications for the unauthorised development carried out at Cleggan Quarry but is not yet in a position to finally determine them.
- For media queries contact the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours, call the Executive Information Service’s Duty Press Officer on 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.”