Linda hits the waves in support of 'No Gas Caverns' campaign

A Co Antrim woman is aiming to complete a sea swim every day in September as part of an ongoing campaign to protect the coastline.

Linda McGibbon, from Whitehead, has been taking to the water at Portmuck in an effort to raise funds for the 'No Gas Caverns' campaign, founded in opposition to the Islandmagee gas storage project.

Linda explained: "I’ve been swimming regularly in the sea since April or so, first near my home in Whitehead and later, as travel restrictions eased, at Portmuck and Brown’s Bay. I started it as a way to enjoy the benefits of cold water swimming, as exercise and for pure enjoyment as I have always loved being in or on the water.

"I swim every day at Portmuck, sometimes twice in a day regardless of the weather; in fact, swimming in the pouring rain is quite nice although Portmuck in the sunshine is hard to beat.

Linda McGibbon.
Linda McGibbon.
Linda McGibbon.

"I’m often joined by a few local swimmers, who like me just love to be in the water, whether to wade in the shallows or go for a longer swim.

"The 'No Gas Caverns' campaign launched a sponsored fundraise for the month of September, and I felt it would be an ideal way to do some fundraising by swimming in the sea every day [this month]."

With a target of £1000, Linda's online fundraising page has already generated hundreds of pounds in sponsorship.

"Living in Whitehead, I spend a lot of my time on Islandmagee; my children go to school there, friends live locally and I regularly walk and swim there," she added.

"I became aware of the No Gas Caverns campaign when it started and have always given it any support I could, as I firmly believe in everything it is doing. Islandmagee is such a beautiful place and it must be protected at all costs.

"All monies raised will be used by the No Gas Caverns campaign to fund legal costs."

The Islandmagee gas storage scheme would consist of several underground caverns, capable of storing up to 500 million cubic metres of gas in Permian salt beds.

InfraStrata PLC, the company behind the proposed development, said it was a "well-proven technique that represents the most environmentally-friendly, safe and efficient method of storing large volumes of natural gas".

It was expected to employ "400 people during construction and 40 once fully functional", according to the firm.

However, the plans have attracted considerable opposition in both the local area and further afield.

Earlier this year, a coalition of environmental groups united as the Marine Task Force expressed concerns that the project could pose a considerable threat to the area.

The task force said the development would see "significant underwater construction and associated noise disturbance, the discharge of brine waste product and the permanent loss of sea floor habitat – affecting harbour porpoises, seals, puffins, guillemots, terns and reefs."


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