Drilling at the controversial oil well at Woodburn Forest in Co Antrim has begun. The project has been greeted with dismay in the community with grave concerns about the proximity of drinking water supplies to the site.
Surrey-based InfraStrata are drilling an exploratory well at Woodburn Forest with the project set to take six weeks. InfraStrata chief executive Andrew Hindle said the company is “committed to completing this project in an environmentally responsible and safe manner and will seek to minimise disruption for local residents at all times”.
However locals are gravely concerned about the proximity of the drilling to drinking water supplies and campaigners have been raising awareness about the drilling in a water catchment area which is 200m from homes and 380m from North Woodburn Reservoir. The license to drill was awarded in 2011 but in a memo obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, the site was subsequently confirmed as a catchment area for drinking water. In a memo to the Department for Regional Development (DRD) Minister Danny Kennedy in August 2014, a DRD official clearly states that NI Water: “has now confirmed that the proposed drilling site is within the North Woodburn catchment. The reservoir collects water run-off from the catchment land via feeder streams/rivers”
— James Orr (@JamesAOrr) May 22, 2016
Drilling in Woodburn Forest will take place over the next two months. Whether further drilling occurs will depend on the success of the well exploration and indeed, the continuing efforts of the Stop the Drill Campaign.