Carrickfergus, in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim, has seen its share of battles, including an early victory by an American revolutionary, John Paul Jones, who captured H.M.S. Drake on 24 April 1778 after luring her from the protection of the guns of Carrickfergus Castle in one of the first naval battles of the Revolutionary War.
A forest just outside Carrickfergus is the scene of another battle today.
From a 16 May post in Rigzone, and oil and gas industry trade news site:
InfraStrata plc announced Monday that drilling has commenced at the Woodburn Forest-1 well, located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
The well will be drilled to a depth of 6,561 feet and target three conventional sandstone reservoir intervals comprising the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone, Lower Permian Sandstone and Carboniferous Sandstones. Drilling operations at the well are expected to take around six weeks to complete. P50 Prospective Resources have been estimated at 25 million barrels of oil within the Woodburn Forest prospect.
Following the completion of drilling, the well will be plugged and abandoned and the site will be restored to its former state. In the event of encouraging results from the well, any re‐establishment of the site for further works, such as testing, would require further consents and planning approval.
The UK. government under David Cameron has been an ambitious advocate of fracking as a way to supplement the nation’s diminishing returns from its North Seas oil and gas fields.
But Woodburn Forest is a national treasure, and opposition was inevitable.
Woodburn forest near Carrickfergus. Via Wikimedia.
Opposition to the drilling has become a significant issue in the Dáil, the national legislature, as the Irish News reports:
THE issue of an exploratory oil drill project in Co Antrim has been raised in the Dáil.
Richard Boyd Barrett, a People Before Profit TD, described InfraStrata’s commencement of drilling at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus as a “very significant and alarming event.”
Mr Boyd Barrett said: “Although NI Water claim there is no danger to the water, they have had to close three reservoirs down.
“They (InfraStrata) started this test drilling without planning permission, without an environmental assessment and without any consultation.
“This is very significant for down here because it opens the door and sets a precedent for test drilling,” added the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown TD.
Tánaiste and Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald of Fine Gael, dismissed Mr Barrett’s concerns.
And the legislator who represents East Antrim and his party, one with a notable revolutionary history as well, has added his voice to the anti-fracking coalition.
From Sinn Féin:
Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said his party remains resolutely opposed to fracking. And he said the company behind ongoing exploratory drilling at Woodburn Forest near Carrickfergus must address the concerns of the local community.
The East Antrim MLA said:
“The local community around Woodburn is very concerned about the ongoing drilling.
“Not only are they concerned about the potential impact the drilling could have on the environment but also that it could be a precursor to an application to carry out fracking on the site.
“Sinn Féin is totally and absolutely opposed to fracking anywhere on the island and will block any application if it comes forward.
“We submitted a motion to the Assembly noting the concerns about the drilling at Woodburn.
“We are calling on the Executive to ensure such applications are not approved until assurances are secured against any negative potential impact on the water supply, environment, tourism or local communities.
“I have called on several occasions for Infrastrata to meet with local residents and that meeting now needs to happen to address their concerns.”
And word of another opposition group came Thursday.
From the Concerned Health Professionals of Ireland:
A group of health professionals launched the Concerned Health Professionals of Ireland (CHPI) to a packed room in Buswells Hotel Dublin May 18th. The campaign is based on a growing network of health providers opposed to fracking, a model successfully used to achieve a ban in New York. The group launched a new website that includes a petition for health professionals to call on government on both sides of the border to implement a ban.
TDs that attended included Joan Collins, (ULA) Eamon Scanlon (FF) Eamon Ryan (Green Party) Martin Kenny (SF) and Maureen O Sullivan (IND). Richard Boyd Barret (PBP) was present and had spoken about fracking in the Dail earlier that day where concerns were raised about the first drill on the island of Ireland in Woodburn Forest, near Belfast.
Carroll O Dolan, a GP from Cavan spoke about the many recorded negative health impacts associated with fracking, based on peer-reviewed research that now exists. “It’s a fact that fracking damages health. Its not just rumour” he said
He said that for years these negative environmental and health impact were dished out by the oil and gas industry on developing countries but it was now coming to Ireland. “Our brothers and sisters have been exposed to this for a long time”