Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark Durkan has rejected Tamboran’s proposals for exploratory drilling in Fermanagh under permitted development rights.
Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister has rejected an application by fracking company Tamboran to carry out exploratory drilling at Belcoo.
The Australian company had notified the NI Dept. of the Environment of their intention to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry on 21 July 2014. The company sought confirmation that this work could be carried out under current permitted development rights without the need for full planning permission as part of their ongoing exploration into the viability of extracting shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in County Fermanagh.
Minister Durkan stated that, after “very careful consideration,” he had concluded that the operation constitutes an “Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply”.
He noted his department’s “responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times”.
“I have concerns that this is an existing quarry where unauthorised extraction has taken place,” Minister Durkan continued. “I believe there is insufficient information to establish what environmental impacts may have already arisen as a result of these unauthorised activities. “Therefore, it is not possible to assess the environmental impact of the drilling cumulatively with other unknown environmental impacts of unregulated activity.”
Tamboran Resources were granted a Petroleum Licence by DETI in 2011 in relation to their proposals to explore the viability of extracting shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in County Fermanagh.
Under current planning Legislation, there are certain permitted development rights under Part 16 of the Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 (as amended) in relation to Mineral Exploration including drilling boreholes.
Permitted development rights do not apply to the extraction of any hydrocarbons.
If any development is deemed to be an EIA development under the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment ) Regulations 2012, then permitted development rights do not apply.
DOE is considering retrospective planning applications for the unauthorised development carried out at Cleggan Quarry but is not yet in a position to finally determine them.