Residents want planners to prevent drilling

RESIDENTS in the Ballinlea area have written to planners in a bid to stop a second oil/gas test well being given the go-ahead in the area.

The submission claims Rathlin Energy have not clearly set out the detail of what they are proposing to do operationally on the site.

The residents’ letter adds “some of the information which is provided is confusing and contradictory - particularly when set in the context of information provided at information sessions held for local residents on the 27th and 28th June.”

The correspondence to planners continues: “Rathlin Energy admitted when questioned at their information session in the Ballinlea Orange Hall that they did not (at that time) know which chemicals would be used in their drilling process”.

The letter added: “Information provided to residents (upon request) after the information sessions revealed that some of the chemicals that would be used are toxic - eg the safety sheet for ‘Safe-cide’ states that it is acutely toxic to humans (fatal if inhaled) and that the material and its containers are to be disposed off as a hazardous waste.”

The submission also talks about the impact on wildlife in the area and there is also mention of what could happen if a well “fails”.

The residents letter said: “If just one well fails within the Licence Area either one of the major rivers - Bush of Bann are ultimately at risk of a serious pollution incident. At least one stream runs along the boundary of the proposed Ballinlea 2 site directly past a number of homes within 250 metres and ultimately joins with the River Bush.

“Local residents are aware of several farms within 3km of the proposed Ballinlea Site 2 which draw water from private boreholes on their property to give to their animals.

“One farmer has also stated that he ‘only drinks this (borehole) water, not mains water’. These farms are located downstream from the proposed well site.”

Noise concerns have also been mentioned by the residents.

The letter states: “Low frequency sounds such as those emitted by drilling into the ground, travel far, and will affect many of the surrounding households. The drilling noise from the first Ballinlea 1 well site was heard and felt by many residents who were further away from the well than they are from the proposed new well.”

“The drilling of this exploratory borehole will involve the release of known hazardous substances such as VOCs and BTEXs - benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, according to Rathlin Energy’s Air Quality Impact Assessment. It also risks releasing radon gas which is currently trapped in the rock strata below the north Antrim area, was found in the Ballinlea 1 well and is known to cause lung cancer.”

The letter also is concerned about the impact on tourism in the area as it’s close to an AONB.