Dickson says planning move by Sinn Fein cynical

Alliance East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson has said a move by Sinn Fein to change rules around planning permission for oil and gas exploration comes too late for a controversial drill in his constituency.

Mr Dickson said while the drilling currently taking place in Woodburn Forest close to Carrickfergus was “gravely concerning,” yesterday’s motion at the Assembly would have no impact on it. The East Antrim representative, who met with protesters prior to the debate, added it was a “cynical” move by Sinn Fein.

“Yesterday’s motion, which will go out for public consultation soon, is not as simple as first suggested – it will have no effect on Woodburn Forest, where that particular horse has bolted. It was a poor move by Sinn Fein – they are an Executive party and the Executive has the power to stop that drilling.

“There are genuine concerns around the water supply from Woodburn, which need to be investigated further. The former Department of the Environment’s contribution in assessing the potential impact of the drilling fell far short of what was needed.

“All environmental factors must be considered before such a serious process is permitted to begin. If not, disastrous consequences for our natural environment may be seen.”

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