Traffic obstruction claims at Woodburn Forest well site

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The row over the Woodburn Forest drill project continued this week following campaigners’ allegations of traffic obstruction at the site.

Stop the Drill, who oppose the InfraStrata-led project to drill an exploratory borehole at the rural location, have previously raised concerns over the potential for contamination of the water table in the area.

A statement from the group read: “The traffic situation on Paisley Road is starting to become a serious issue. There are large HGV lorries blocking and reversing on a bend as they enter the Woodburn site. This is at the time when people are going to work and school.”

The group also claimed that the road surface is “disintegrating” while “mud from the site and stones from the lorries is spilling onto the road and not being cleaned off for several hours.”

“InfraStrata were required to tarmac a portion of the access road to prevent this happening but have failed to do so,” the statement alleged.

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, who bear the responsibility for ensuring the laying of the tarmac took place, have been notified but have not responded to our complaint.

“The other traffic problem is that the number of HGVs using this minor road; we have witnessed between three and five lorries arriving per hour and at times there up to five lorries parked on a narrow stretch of road at a corner.

“This is an accident waiting to happen but the responsible public agencies are not taking responsibility.”

Responding, a DRD spokesperson indicated that the Woodburn drill site has been deemed ‘permitted development’ with an agreed Temporary Traffic Management (TTM) plan to enable construction traffic to enter and leave the site in a regulated manner.

“However, because this TTM plan is advisable only, any breaches in this plan are not enforceable,” the spokesperson added.

“The roads around the site are public roads and any site traffic must adhere to current regulations on the safe use of public roads. Any breach of the law such as parking or reversing around blind corners should be dealt with by PSNI.

“With regard to the mud being deposited on the road, the Section Engineer for the area has been made aware of this and has already been in contact with the developer instructing them to keep the road clear of debris.

“The developer will continue to monitor this situation.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the local government authority added: “As Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is the subject of Judicial Review in relation to the Woodburn drilling activity, it would be inappropriate for council to comment on the matter.”