Council to visit Dalradian site

Mid Ulster District Council’s planning committee has accepted the offer of a site visit from the company behind a controversial proposal to bring  gold mine to the Sperrins.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 10:12 am
Cllr Clement Cuthbertson

The decision to accept the offer to visit Dalradian Gold Limited’s office and site operations in Omagh and Rosukey was taken at a meeting of Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, October 5.

During the meeting, members were advised Dalradian’s  managing director, Brian Kelly had sent a letter to Council’s head of planning, Dr Chris Boomer disputing some of the comments made about the proposed gold mine in the Sperrins during the planning committee’s meeting in August of this year.

In the letter, Mr Kelly explains Dalradian has “no issue with constructive objection and welcomes informed debate” and says the company “fully accepts that mining, like many industries, can be emotive” before stating the company has “long been on record as welcoming a public enquiry”.

However, the letter goes on to address comments made by committee members expressing concern about the impact on local roads and a statement that “mining will be to a depth of a couple of miles below sea level”.

It notes DfI Roads has assessed the application and is content with the information provided and claims that following construction, only “three loads per day” will be exported and states “there will not be any movement of rocks or ore off-site during the operational stage”.

With regards to the depth of mining, the letter says the plan for the mine extends to a depth of 700m.

“Our operation will be underground, with a highly targeted method to remove the narrow (average of 0.5m) gold-silver-copper veins,” reads the letter.

“Our mining plan and planning application, clearly sets out that the mined voids will be backfilled during operations.”

Finally the letter extends the offer of a site visit to any councillor or council colleague who would wish to visit and says the company’s “wider commitments and actions, such as our carbon neutral (net carbon zero) status and achievements to date” could be discussed on site.

In a report produced for the committee’s members, Dr Chris Boomer said he could see no reason why “Council would deviate” from its position in relation to the need for a public enquiry.

However, he did say that taking up the offer of an accompanied site visit “would be of assistance to me in preparing for the inquiry”.

Whilst acknowledging the acceptance of this offer for a site visit will probably create “some disquiet” amongst those who oppose the goldmine locally, Dr Boomer said Council’s position is a matter of public record and stated his belief “the benefits in terms of our preparation for the public inquiry” outweighs these concerns.

Councillor Clement Cuthbertson proposed the committee accept the offer for a site visit and that any councillor or officer who wishes to attend could do so.

This proposal was subsequently seconded by Councillor Wills Robinson and the committee voiced its approval.

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