‘No water pollution at Woodburn Forest site’, say NIEA

Excavation work at the Woodburn site (photo provided by Stop the Drill).  INCT 31-726-CON
Excavation work at the Woodburn site (photo provided by Stop the Drill). INCT 31-726-CON

‘No water pollution’ has been observed during the restoration process at Woodburn Forest, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has said.

Formerly the site of a controversial oil and gas exploration well, the project was abandoned in June after no trace of hydrocarbons were found.

InfraStrata the company behind the scheme, returned to the rural spot this week to begin restoration work - one of the conditions of the Permitted Development Rights under which the project had initially been proceeding.

However members of the Stop the Drill group, who consistently opposed the drilling operation, raised concerns that a trench dug as part of the excavation process was allowing “contaminated water” to escape into nearby waterways.

A DAERA spokesperson said: “On July 27, NIEA received the first of several reports of water pollution at Woodburn Forest.

“NIEA Water Quality Inspectors were immediately informed and travelled to the site to carry out an investigation. Further to that investigation, no water pollution or pollution signs were observed in any local waterway.

“Restoration of the site is currently underway. Analysis of the water contained within the wellpad bund has shown that the water does not pose a risk to the water environment.

“NIEA inspectors will continue to visit the site and monitor surface waters and groundwater in the vicinity of the site, during the restoration and post closure period.”