Anger as council backs Woodburn Forest drilling plan

Stop the Drill campaigners outside The Braid.  INCT 10-733-CON
Stop the Drill campaigners outside The Braid. INCT 10-733-CON

There were angry scenes at The Braid last night as Mid and East Antrim Council backed a waste management plan which paves the way for controversial drilling at Woodburn Forest.

Over 100 protesters from Stop the Drill packed out the public gallery in the council chamber in opposition to plans for an exploratory borehole at the rural location.

Chief among the group’s concerns is the potential for contamination of drinking water supplies for over 130,000 people in the catchment area.

Some 22 councillors voted to accept the waste management plan, with nine voting against and four abstentions.

This followed the failure of an earlier proposal to delay the decision until an independent geological survey could be completed.

The decision was met with anger from those in the gallery, with shouts of “shame” and “disgrace”.

Speaking after the meeting, one visibly upset campaigner said she was “incredibly disappointed” at the decision.

Another added: “I’ve no confidence in the council now at all. If this is democracy I don’t want anything to do with it.”

In a statement, Stop the Drill said: “We are very disappointed that Mid and East Antrim Council have voted to approve the waste management plan. The process is fundamentally and fatally flawed. The expectation is that a legal case will now result.”

Meanwhile, campaigners who were maintaining a presence at the Woodburn Forest site were served a formal legal notice on Tuesday morning.

The document warned that InfraStrata would take legal action if protesters did not “immediately vacate the access route and lands surrounding the property”.