Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA and a UUP member of the Stormont Agriculture Committee, has challenged both the Causeway Coast and Glens Council and the Sinn Fein Infrastructure Minister “to give their unequivocal support to opposing any plans to start open cast lignite mining in Ballymoney”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and Past Chairman of the influential Rural Youth Europe organization, has been a vociferous campaigner against any proposals to begin lignite mining in the region, warning that it would be “an economic and environmental disaster for the entire North Antrim constituency”.
Mr Swann has also written to the Causeway Coast and Glens Council asking it to confirm its opposition to open cast mining in Ballymoney.
Mr Swann’s challenges came after he asked the Minister for Infrastructure “what steps he will take to prevent open cast lignite mining in North Antrim”.
Responding to Assemblyman Swann, the Minister said: “As you will be aware local area planning is now the responsibility of the local councils.
“With regards to North Antrim, Lignite Resource / Policy Areas are designated in the local area plans for both the Crumlin and Ballymoney areas.
“Any changes to these designations will be the responsibility of those councils in bringing forward their local area plans.
Mr Swann added: “Simply because we as a community have halted proposals in the past does not mean we should rest on our laurels.
“We as a community need to maintain our opposition to open cast lignite mining if we want to preserve the beauty of our North Antrim region for generations to come.
“If we lose the lignite fight, our beloved North Antrim will become a rural wasteland and we will see our much-needed farming industry completely ruined in that part of the constituency,” warned Assemblyman Swann.