Protect Woodburn Forest and Reservoirs today!

A Community project Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Protect Woodburn Forest and Reservoirs today!

About the project: We are a group of concerned citizens campaigning to protect the Woodburn Forest and Reservoirs.  #StopTheDrill

About the project: We are a group of concerned citizens campaigning to protect the Woodburn Forest and Reservoirs. We are seeking support to engage a waste management consultant to respond to the waste management consultation recently advertised by Mid and East Antrim Council. We are also seeking additional funds for legal support and ongoing campaign costs. 

Without asking or informing you, Northern Ireland Water (our sole provider of water) has given oil company InfraStrata permission to drill on land which is a water catchment area in Woodburn Forest. The proposed site is situated in close proximity to North Woodburn Reservoir, which is not only used as a source of freshwater abstraction but is also designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest. 

The site was initially farmland but in Victorian times the Belfast and District Water Commissioners acquired the land in order to protect the land from contamination and to protect our drinking water. It was a controversial issue at the time as the farmers and their familes did not want to give leave their homes. Today however, we give thanks for the enlightened attitude of our Victorian predecessors. Contrast their attitude with that of the current guardian of the site NI Water who have leased our land to quite possibly the worse kind of tenant and neighbour imaginable.

Water from North Woodburn Reservoir supplies Dorisland Water Works which feeds over 1800 streets. This breaks down to 705 streets across Belfast, 532 streets in Carrickfergus, 576 streets in Newtownabbey, 59 streets in Larne, 80 streets in Whitehead, 4 streets in Ballycarry. Do you drink water from one of these streets?

 A Freedom of Information request has revealed the list of streets. Click here to view this list. Dorisland supplies drinking water to 131,000 people in Belfast (including the City Centre), Larne, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and Whitehead.

During a planning committee meeting at Mid and East Antrim (MEA) Council on 4th Feb 2016, it was announced that InfraStrata had written to the Council to advise that it intended to commence drilling at Woodburn Forest, Carrickefergus on 15th Feb 2016.

At the same meeting Paul Duffy Head of Planning admitted that his department had failed to consider the waste management plan.

On the 20th of January 2016 we contacted the Department of Environment (DOE) and the Mid and East Antrim Council and asked for a copy of the Waste Management Plan and the Waste Management Approval.

Mr. Duffy admitted that the Waste Management plan hasn't yet been approved and that “The consideration of a Waste Management Plan involves a similar process to that of assessing a Planning Application in that it needs to be advertised and consultations undertaken before a decision can be made to approve or refuse the plan. However unlike assessing a Planning Application there is no mechanism within the planning portal for managing the process. As such consideration will have to be given as to how this process will be undertaken.”

The Council has finally accepted that all the permits to drill specifically the approval for the Waste Management plan are not in place. The process for considering a Waste Management Plan is set out in ‘The Planning of Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2015’. 

We are very concerned that thousands of kilograms of toxic chemicals including the extremely toxic Biocide T and 24,000kg of Barium Sulphate will be stored in a water catchment area and used to drill the well; we are very concerned that in their 50 year Exploration Agreement with NI Water which allows for multiple wells, Infrastrata have "the right to re inject Petroleum, water and any other fluids into the Site and under the Site and the Landlord’s Premises which arise as a result of Petroleum, exploration development, transportation, extraction and/or production of Petroleum originating from any well or wells from time to time upon the Site.” 

Paul Duffy stated that ‘The obvious implications for Infrastrata is that to meet the legislative requirements to have a Waste Management Plan approved prior to work onsite may delay their proposed commencement date and members may be aware that the online petition against the drilling at Woodburn has been reactivated.’

The Council have now advertised a Waste Management Plan Consultation. The deadline for the consultation is the 25th February 2016. We are seeking professional support to help with our response. 

Infrastrata moved on site on the 18th Feb 2016. We are seeking additional funds to support legal costs arising during this time and additional campaign costs at this time.

Please support the campaign to protect the Woodburn Forest and Reservoirs.