Concern over prospecting licence application

Ballymoney Councillors have reiterated their position on open-cast mining following an application for prospecting rights in the Borough.Although the application by Lonmin (Northern Ireland) Limited is for prospecting and not for mining, the council have stated clearly that they will “rigorously oppose” opencast mining after the Government advised that four applications had been received for mineral prospecting rights.

Areas affected are Ballymoney, Moyle, Coleraine, Ballymena, Magherafelt and Larne.

Public notices in relation to the application will be on display in Riada House until December 16.

DETI said consideration would be given to the issue of a licence for an initial period of two years with provision for an extension. This time round more of the Ballymoney Borough was included than previously.

Councillors considered representations made in 2008 in response to previous licence applications and said they were “extremely concerned about the application given the effect of the granting of an earlier prospecting licence which led to the zoning of a large area of the Borough as a Lignite Resource Area in the North East Area Plan.”

The council’s response continued: “This area was significantly extended in the draft Northern Area Plan and the effect was “to blight an area of the Borough from any new construction.

“The current applications would extend the area liable to be included in the Lignite Resource Area and council would strongly request that lignite be specifically excluded from the licence to prevent any possibility of that occurrence.

“While the current application is for prospecting and not for mining, the council wants to put on record that it is opposed to any proposals to extract minerals by open cast mining. The community in Ballymoney and the wider area has visibly demonstrated its opposition to this form of mining also, in respect of lignite, and anyone applying for a prospecting licence should be in no doubt of this; opencast mining will be rigorously opposed.”

“Given the level of local feeling generated by the lignite issue it is important that anyone granted a prospecting licence is aware of the need to communicate with the community in the affected area.”