Campaigners’ joy as firm leave drill site

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Stop the Drill campaigners were celebrating last week as oil and gas exploration company InfraStrata finally departed the former drilling site at Woodburn Forest.

The firm was previously granted two extensions by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to complete restoration works at the rural location.

The extensions were permitted due to the July holidays and a period of wet weather, the local government authority said.

Exploration was wound up in June after the project failed to find any trace of hydrocarbons.

The second extension would have required InfraStrata to finish by September 16; however, the firm vacated the site early on Friday.

In a statement, Stop the Drill said: “Following the departure of Infrastrata on Friday, our camp closed at Woodburn Forest. This is an emotional day for all who spent many hours monitoring from the base. Our campaign to stop the drill at Woodburn was exhausting at times but we’ve learned that people can make change, challenge decision makers, win hearts and minds and create a better future for all.

“We have lots of plans for the future. We hope to secure a change in the legislation that allowed this drill to happen, and we are campaigning for a very important change in legislation in order to allow greater transparency in decision making and public participation.

“We’ll be working to ensure that the local community and the children who were such a huge part of the campaign are part of the replanting of the forest and we’ll continue to ensure that this water catchment is protected for future generations.”