Independent Councillor for the area, Padraig McShane, welcomed the announcement that Rathlin Energy is to terminate its petroleum licence PL3/10 and leave Ballinlea. The hydrocarbon exploration company had applied to drill a second well in North Antrim but says its decision to quit was due to the “length and complexity of the process for securing planning permission for the second exploration well”.
Councillor McShane stated; “Rathlin Energy leaving Ballinlea has nothing to do with the planning process. It is that company’s inability to satisfy the planners with answers to questions they had been furnished with by the department. These included public safety, environmental protection and the use of unconventional extraction or fracking as it’s more commonly known.
“Credit must go to the sheer dogged determination of local campaigners who forced the Environment Minister’s announcement that there would be a presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon extraction until it had proven it was safe to do so. It was they who brought to the public’s and the Minister’s attention the concerns on unconventional extraction.”
Councillor McShane said that no prospects existed for the local community after he and local activist Conor McCarry had a dedicated meeting with the company last year. The Councillor reiterated the points stating;
“Fracking was only discussed for a limited period of time as we found the company had been evasive while addressing questions in the past. Instead we focused on socioeconomic issues – chief among them was job creation.
“Rathlin Energy confirmed that no major employment opportunities would present themselves and the programme of work they envisaged would not be labour intensive. In addition, drilling rigs and specialised crews would all be brought in from overseas to the Ballinlea site. Neither would the company be offering training to enhance the prospect of job creation within the local community.
“One can only conclude that the withdrawal of Rathlin Energy is a good news story for the local community”.