Woodburn Forest drilling licence relinquished

Woodburn Forest 160509 2

Protests against drilling in Woodburn Forest, 9 May 2016. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

The petroleum licence which saw drilling for oil in Woodburn Forest in Northern Ireland has been relinquished.

Officials confirmed that Terrain Energy has given up the PL1/10 licence in the Larne-Lough Neagh Basin with immediate effect.

The licence will terminate on 28 April 2020, the Department for the Economy has said.

A spokesperson for Stop the Drill, the campaign against hydrocarbon operations in the licence area, said:

“We have monitored this licence since 2011 and we are delighted by this announcement.

“This is a victory for the residents of Woodburn and the Stop The Drill campaign.”

PL1 and 10 licence

PL1/10 licence area (shaded). Source: Department for the Economy

The only well in PL1/10 was drilled at Woodburn Forest to 2,000m in May 2016.

The site was controversial because it was near a reservoir that supplied drinking water to Belfast.

The operation led to protests and a legal challenge.

Campaigners said drilling could pollute the reservoir, although Northern Ireland Water said there was no risk.

There were also complaints that paths in Woodburn Forest had been blocked. And campaigners opposed the system of permitted development rights which allowed the well to be drilled without planning permission.

The Woodburn-1 well was abandoned and plugged when the two sandstone targets were found to be water wet. More details and DrillOrDrop report

The Northern Ireland Assembly declared a climate emergency on 3 February 2020. The Stop the Drill campaign has repeated its call  for an end to petroleum licensing in Northern Ireland.

The PL1/10 licence was the only current petroleum licence in Northern Ireland.

But public consultations were held last year on two further licences: PLA1/16 and PLA2/16. The Department for the Economy said the consultation responses had raised “numerous issues” which it needed to “consider in detail in order to be able to provide advice to a minister”.

Stop the Drill said:

“We call for petroleum licence applications PLA1/16 and PLA2/16 to be rejected.

“We continue our call for a ban on unconventional exploration/fracking. As far back 2011, the majority of our MLAs voted for a moratorium on fracking. The moratorium was never enacted with Arlene Foster, DETI Minister at the time, summarily dismissing the motion as “fundamentally flawed.

“We also continue to campaign for the removal of Permitted Development Rights for petroleum exploration.”

The group said it had written to the infrastructure minister and had been told a reply would be issued soon.

2 replies »

  1. Does this mean some other company can apply for that licence, or has the water issue put paid to any company wanting that licence?

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