Campaigners stage protest at Woodburn

Campaigners at the Woodburn Forest site this week.   INCT 07-729-CON
Campaigners at the Woodburn Forest site this week. INCT 07-729-CON

A campaign to “protect the local water supply” is continuing this week at the proposed site for an exploration well in Woodburn Forest.

Residents and members of the Stop the Drill group gathered on Monday morning after signs warning members of the public to ‘keep out’ were erected at the rural Carrick location.

The project, led by exploration firm InfraStrata, has attracted much opposition in recent months with concerns over the potential for contamination of the local drinking water supply, an allegation which NI Water has consistenly rejected.

Stop the Drill outlined its intention to “maintain a presence” at the entrance to the forest.

It also called a public meeting at the Windrose tonight (February 17).

Mid and East Antrim Council was originally informed of a start date of February 15 for the scheme. However, last week MEA clarified that it could not proceed without an approved waste management plan.

“Under the Planning (Management of Waste from Extractive Industries) Regulations (NI) 2015, InfraStrata will require to have an approved Waste Management Plan prior to the commencement of exploratory drilling,” a spokesperson for MEA Council said.

“InfraStrata has been informed accordingly.”

Notice of public consultation by MEA on the waste management document, which is running until February 25, was published in the local press last week.

The document covers a number of elements from well maintenance, pollution prevention, and site restoration.

In a statement, NI Water said: “Warning signs were erected advising the public to avoid the site for health and safety reasons. This would be normal practice to alert the public to the fact that construction is about to take place.

“Aside from leasing the land, NI Water do not have a role in the construction process and InfraStrata manage the schedule for this project, in consultation with NIEA and DETI.”