Alliance seeks public consultation ahead of gas cavern licence

An aerial view of Islandmagee.
An aerial view of Islandmagee.

Alliance has called for a public consultation ahead of approval of a licence for the creation of underground gas storage caverns at Larne Lough.

A letter to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, from Alliance MLAs John Blair and Stewart Dickson, has outlined the party’s concerns about the proposals, in particular with regard to the possible impact on local marine ecology.

It calls on the Department not to grant a full licence for the process without first holding a public consultation.

“One of the main issues raised on the doors with us while canvassing has been opposition to this proposal for underground gas storage caverns,” said Alliance Larne Lough candidate Danny Donnelly.

“The key problem for many is the discharged saline brine created by the process which could impact on the local environment, particularly the marine wildlife of the area.”

Mr. Donnelly has suggested that there is a need for an independent environmental protection agency in Northern Ireland.

“The recent news that the sea surrounding Islandmagee has become a special area of conservation is also welcome.

“However, many local people still feel their voices are not being heard on this matter.

“Therefore, Alliance has requested a licence is not granted for this process without first holding a public consultation. This will allow residents to express their concerns about the project and the potential environmental impact it may cause.”