Tamboran prepare to drill at Belcoo, Fermanagh

Tamboran Resources Ltd, the Australian-owned company with a petroleum licence for the Lough Allen Basin, are right now preparing to drill an exploratory borehole at a quarry just outside Belcoo in Co. Fermanagh. They moved in and put up security fencing with razor-wire in the early hours of July 21st when people were sleeping. Find out more from the links under ‘Stay up to date’, below.

Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durken is due to make a decision shortly about whether the drilling will be allowed to go ahead. You can join with hundreds of others in opposing this drilling by clicking here or the link below under ‘Action you can take’, and sending an email to the Minister, asking him to do the right thing.

Action you can take:

Do the right thing on Fracking Minister Durkan. Public participation E-mail action: https://www.facebook.com/events/335700499919709/

Stay up to date here:

Frack-Off Belcoo Community Blockade: http://frack-off.org.uk/belcoo-community-fracking-blockade/

Belcoo Frack Free: https://www.facebook.com/belcoofrackfree?hc_location=timeline

Ban Fracking Fermanagh: https://www.facebook.com/BanFrackingFermanaghCampaign

No Fracking Northern Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Fracking-Northern-Ireland/110905929036805

Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network: http://www.frackaware.com/wordpress/ 

Love Leitrim: http://www.loveleitrim.org/

Concerned about water pollution?

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is currently undertaking a consultation on Significant Water Management Issues. The deadline for responses is 22nd June 2014. Email and postal addresses are included below.

The consultation documents for each of NI’s three river basin districts refer to the risks posed by mineral extraction and refer to unconventional gas exploration and extraction. They all say the same thing. Here is an extract from the North Eastern River Basin District consultation document, p31. [emphasis added].

“Pollution of surface waters can occur as a result of run-off from the land area around a quarry or mine, hydrocarbon or herbicide spills, excess herbicide or fertiliser applications, run-off from soil and spoil heaps which may contain toxic metals and phosphates. Pollution of surface waters can also occur indirectly by pollutants being transported in groundwater.

Mineral extraction by its very nature poses risks to groundwater. Removal of the overlying land in the working area means that the vulnerability of the groundwater to pollution is increased as the natural protection is removed. Therefore, it is important that proper precautions are taken to ensure the risk of pollution is minimized. Pollutants may include oils, fuels and hydraulic fluids, metals (for example, Cadmium, Mercury), pesticides, flocculants used in settlement ponds and nutrients.

Unconventional gas exploration and extraction refers to the use of high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of previously impermeable rock to permit the extraction of natural gas on a commercial scale from unconventional sources such as shale gas deposits, coal seams and tight sandstones. At present, there is no exploratory or commercial drilling underway in relation to this in Northern Ireland.  

What are we already doing about this?

New legislation was introduced through the Planning Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 which requires the initial review of old mineral permissions. Mineral mapping has been undertaken to highlight where specific reserves are located, what type they are and what constraints exist in the form of environmental designations. Northern Ireland Government Departments, through the shale gas Forum, are in the process of identifying the regulatory framework applicable to onshore oil and gas exploratory activities in Northern Ireland, and the linkages between the existing regulatory regimes. Such activities may include high volume hydraulic fracturing. As part of the planning process, NIEA requests hydrological risk assessments for quarries, to assess risks from dewatering and how they can be mitigated. NIEA provides guidance notes for applicants.

Possible options that could be put in place?

Significant all-Ireland research project to be scoped that will contribute to providing the evidence base for the regulation of fracking.”

(North Eastern River Basin District, http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/swmi-north-eastern-reduced-size-2.pdf p31.)

NI’s three river basin districts are:

North Eastern River Basin District – Bush, Glens & Rathlin, Larne Lough, Belfast Lough, Lagan, Strangford, Quoile and South Down

North Western River Basin District – Faughan, Roe, Burn Dennet & Foyle, Strule, Derg & Mourne, Owenkillew, Lough Melvin & Arney, Upper Lough Erne and Lower Lough Erne

Neagh Bann River Basin District – Ballinderry, Moyola, Lough Neagh, Lower Bann, Braid and Main, Six Mile Water, Upper Bann, Blackwater and Carlingford & Newry

People can respond to this consultation at a general or local catchment level.

The consultation questions are the same for each area:

1. What do you consider to be the most significant issues affecting the water
environment in the North Eastern [or other] River Basin District?
2. What do you consider to be the most significant issues affecting the water
environment in your Local Management Area?
3. How do you think these issues should be addressed, and what would you choose to do first?
4. Are there any projects that we could work on in partnership to help improve the water environment in North Eastern [or other] River Basin District?

Here is a very simple response you can use as a template, although putting it in your own words would help:   (A more detailed version will be added later.)

 

This consultation is open from the 22nd December 2013 to 22nd June 2014. You can respond by :

• sending a response by e-mail to:  riverbasinplanning@doeni.gov.uk
or
• sending a written response to:
River Basin Planning – Consultation,
Water Management Unit
DOE NIEA
17 Antrim Road
Tonagh
Lisburn
BT28 3AL

Upcoming Event

Bushmills, Wed 28th May – 7.30pm, Dunluce Parish Centre, 13 Priestland Rd.

Worth attending!

Mike Hill, Chartered Engineer, with oil industry experience, will be talking about Fracking, Safety and Regulation.

James Orr, Director of Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, will be providing an overview of NI’s track record with regard to environmental regulation, monitoring and enforcement.

Bushmills event poster

 

 

 

Is Rathlin Energy Ltd exploring for shale gas, or not?

Rathlin Energy director David Montagu-Smith has tried to allay the concerns of people in East Yorkshire, by saying that Rathlin Energy are not ‘Sneaky frackers’ (http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/sneaky-frackers-Rathlin-Energy-insists-East/story-20964187-detail/story.html).

We wonder if their plans for Yorkshire are different from their plans for the North Coast of Northern Ireland. When called upon at various public meetings to rule out fracking for shale gas in Counties Antrim and Derry/Londonderry, the company’s executives (including Mr Montagu-Smith) repeatedly refused to rule it out, saying that they had to explore all of the options for the licenced area (from Magilligan in the west, to Ballycastle in the east and as far south as Garvagh).

The company has applied to drill an exploratory well into the shale layer at Ballinlea in North Antrim under licence PL3/10. The original licences (click CE1-04 and CE2-04) under which their first well was drilled at Ballinlea in 2008, were specifically for the exploration of commercial Coalbed Methane and Shale Gas potential in the Rathlin Basin. (The licences were held originally by Rathlin Energy Ltd’s Canadian owner, Connaught Energy Ltd, and were transferred to Rathlin Energy Ltd in 2007.)

Those licences say:

“This Licence CE1/04 and licence CE2/04 form part of a single integrated exploration programme over the Rathlin Basin. The core elements of this programme are:

  • the development of a hydrocarbon system for the basin,
  • the drilling of one shallow well to provide core, from the Ballycastle Carboniferous coal and organic-rich shale section, that will be analysed for CBM [Coalbed Methane] potential,
  • the drilling of one exploration well, in the Rathlin Basin, to evaluate the Carboniferous section for commercial coalbed methane and gas shale potential,
  • the evaluation of the results from the above to produce a final prospectivity assessment of the licence areas.”

Minister Arlene Foster wrote in a letter responding to queries of local residents (via local MLAs) in November 2011: There may be some additional potential for ‘unconventional’ gas resources including shale gas in the onshore Rathlin Basin, and the Department would expect Rathlin Energy Ltd  to review this in their evaluation of the overall prospectivity of the licence. 

Despite their stated target being conventional oil and gas, Rathlin Energy Ltd’s proposed operational plan for Ballinlea includes drilling down into the shale layer (past the layers expected to contain conventional oil and gas deposits), and undertaking extended well testing using a variety of well stimulation techniques, including (if deemed necessary) dissolving the rock with hydrochloric acid (‘acid wash’ and ‘acid squeeze’), a mini fall-off test to check permeability of the rock, and conventional hydraulic fracturing, using sand, water, and ‘stimulation fluid’. These processes could be repeated at multiple intervals within the reservoir. This would provide information to the company on the viability of commercial extraction of the different types of gas or oil (conventional and unconventional) contained within different intervals or types of source rock (shale, sandstone, coal seams, etc.)

Even if Rathlin Energy Ltd IS exploring for conventional oil and gas, does this not ALSO sound like exploratory drilling for shale gas…the type of exploratory drilling which is necessary in advance of (high-volume) hydraulic fracturing? We think so.

Could, or would, you explore for shale gas without undertaking this type of exploration first? Not likely.

If your target was only conventional oil and gas, would you spend more money drilling deeper than necessary? Not likely.

Is Rathlin Energy Ltd exploring for shale gas? Can you really look at the evidence and say ‘no’?

 

More objections to the Ballinlea Well

Ballinlea the next Balcombe

Here are more objections to Rathlin Energy’s exploratory well planning application which you can use for your own letters:

Serious Health Concerns – A letter prepared by Dr. Geralyn McCarron – Letter from Dr McCarron April 2014

The official end-date for public consultation in this period is 17th April – BUT, you can continue to raise issues and send in your concerns after this date. Ballinlea residents have been told that they will still be considered right up until a decision is made about whether to grant planning permission or not, so please keep sending in your concerns and objections – it is not too late! 

Please note that Planning responses should go to Causeway Exchange 1- 7 Bedford Street Belfast BT2 7EG (no change in email address)

 

Object again to drilling at Ballinlea!

Rathlin Energy Ltd have finally submitted much more detailed information to the Planning Service (upon request) about what they intend to do at the proposed Ballinlea drilling site. It includes more detail about the processes including the Conventional Hydraulic Fracturing, Mini Fall-off test and Acid Squeeze test, and more information about the expected levels and directions of toxic emissions from the flaring of gas, which is particularly concerning to people living within half a mile.

There are 43 households within half a mile, and 140 within 2kms. Obviously if this industry was to progress, and high numbers of wells were to be developed, the effect would be cumulative and impact on a very high number of households, across a wide area.

Read below for how to see the information they have submitted, and how to object to the planning application.

Click this link to access all of the documents relating to Rathlin Energy’s Ballinlea planning application:
Key documents are:
  • You will see the company’s information mostly under “additional information”, and the most recent ones have a 20/03/2014 publication date. There is also a separate “drawings” folder and “mining waste management plan”.
  • Letters from the department to the company and to statutory consultees (other government agencies) are under the “supporting documents” folder and letters of objection (there are long ones and short ones) are under “representation letters”.
  • The planners and other government departments are not experts in this area – this type of planning application is new in the UK and especially new in Northern Ireland – so they need all the help they can get to determine whether the information being provided by Rathlin Energy is fully accurate, comprehensive, and doesn’t pose undue risks to environmental and human health.
  • We think the proposal does pose undue risk to environmental and human health and we think it is important to point out any new research or information to the people making the decisions about this.
Lodge your objections

Ballinlea Residents have prepared a simple objection letter for people to use to show they do not want this application to be approved:

Ballinlea Objection Letter April 2014 (word version)

or

Ballinlea Objection Letter April 2014 pdf (pdf version)

Please complete your name and address (not possible electronically in pdf versions, but you could rename the document to include your name if you plan to email it)

and either:

  • email to:  mineralsenquiries@doeni.gov.uk

or

  • print out and post to (address on letter):

Mr Hamilton
Principal Planning Officer
Strategic Planning Division
Causeway Exchange, 1- 7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG 

Please, if possible, adapt your letter/email to include your own points of objection.

If you’d like to also send your objection to MLAs, newspapers, councillors etc, please do. Here are some additional email addresses:

cllr.jbaird@moyle-council.org , cllr.sblaney@moyle-council.org , cllr.dcunningham@moyle-council.org, cllr.cmcshane@moyle-council.org, mcshaneshar@aol.com, cllr.wgraham@moyle-council.org, cllr.shunter@moyle-council.org , david@ipjr.net, cllr.rmcilroy@moyle-council.org, cllr.smckillop@moyle-council.org, cllr.nmcallister@moyle-council.org, cllr.cmccambridge@moyle-council.org, cllr.mamckillop@moyle-council.org, cllrcthompson@moyle-council.org,

paul.frew@mla.niassembly.gov.uk, daithi.mckay@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,

info@jimallister.org, john.dallat@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,

mervyn.storey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk, robin.swann@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,

arlene@arlenefoster.org.uk,
peter.robinson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
Martin.McGuinness@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
Private.Office@doeni.gov.uk,
private.office@dhsspsni.gov.uk,
private.office@dardni.gov.uk,
tom.elliott@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
phil.flanagan@sinnfein.ie,
sean.lynch@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
maurice.morrow@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
gerry.adams@oir.ie,
info@alasdairmcdonnell.com,
alliance@allianceparty.org,
steven.agnew@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
gordon.dunne@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
stephen.moutray@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
robin.newton@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
sue.ramsey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
alban.maginness@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
mike.nesbitt@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
martina.anderson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
sydney.anderson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
roy.beggs@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
jonathan.bell@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
cathal.boylan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
michaela.boyle@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
dominic.bradley@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
paula.bradley@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
mickey.brady@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
thomas.buchanan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
joe.byrne@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
gregory.campbell@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
trevor.clarke@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
willie.clarke@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
judith.cochrane@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
michael.copeland@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
jonathan.craig@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
leslie.cree@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
stewart.dickson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
jo-anne.dobson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
pat.doherty@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
sammy.douglas@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
markh.durkan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
alex.easton@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
colum.eastwood@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
stephen.farry@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
samuel.gardiner@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
paul.girvan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
brenda.hale@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
simon.hamilton@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
williamhaydup@btconnect.com,
david.hilditch@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
william.humphrey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
ross.hussey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
william.irwin@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
dolores.kelly@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
gerry.kelly@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
danny.kennedy@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
danny.kinahan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
pam.lewis@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
anna.lo@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
trevor.lunn@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
chris.lyttle@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
alex.maskey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
paul.maskey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
john.mccallister@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
fra.mccann@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
jennifer.mccann@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
kieran.mccarthy@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
raymond.mccartney@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
nelson.mccausland@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
david.mcclarty@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
basil.mccrea@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
ian.mccrea@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
conall.mcdevitt@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
barry.mcelduff@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
michael.mcgimpsey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
patsy.mcglone@sdlp.ie,
david.mcilveen@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
michelle.mcilveen@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
karen.mckevitt@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
Mitchel.McLaughlin@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
oliver.mcmullan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
david.mcnarry@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
adrian.mcquillan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
francie.molloy@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
conor.murphy@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
caral.nichuilin@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
john.odowd@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
cathal.ohoisin@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
sandra.overend@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
pat.ramsey@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
margaret.ritchie@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
george.robinson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
alastair.ross@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
caitriona.ruane@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
pat.sheehan@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
jimmyspratt@dup.org.uk,
peter.weir@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
jim.wells@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
sammy.wilson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk,
thomas.oreilly@fermanagh.gov.uk,
gildernewm@parliament.uk,

diane.dodds@europarl.europa.eu,

bairbre.debrun@europarl.europa.eu,

james.nicholson@europarl.europa.eu,

ballycastle.news@thechronicle.uk.com

editor@thechronicle.uk.com

ballymoney.news@thechronicle.uk.com

editor@northernconstitution.co.uk

news@ballymoneytimes.co.uk

letters@thedetail.tv

editorial@impartialreporter.com,
m.kennedy@fermanaghherald.com,
writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk,
newsdesk@irishnews.com,
newsdesk@newsletter.co.uk

Thanks for your help.

Vanessa Vine coming to the North Coast!

Vanessa Vine, Founder of Frack-free Sussex, and Britain and Ireland Frack-Free (BIFF), is coming to the North Coast. She’s been meeting with anti-fracking campaigners across Ireland and Northern Ireland, and visiting areas that are at risk from unconventional hydrocarbon extraction – areas like the Rathlin Basin – i.e. most of Northern Ireland’s North Coast.

She will be sharing her campaigning experiences from Balcombe in Sussex, and other exploration sites, like Barton Moss, with local people here.

She will be speaking in Ballycastle at 7.30pm on Monday 7th April, in the Ferry Terminal.

Vanessa Vine Event