‘13% of land mass now open to prospectors’

editorial image

The Department for the Economy’s decision to grant Dalradian and Flintridge Resources fresh licences to prospect in the Sperrins has been blasted by members of the Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee.

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy said it was “extremely disappointing” the Council’s concerns about gold-mining, in the rolling mountain range, as expressed in a letter to DfE in 2017, were not enough to stop further prospecting.

Inside the tunnels at Dalradian's Camcosy Road site.

Inside the tunnels at Dalradian's Camcosy Road site.

People Before Profit Alliance Councillor Eamonn McCann, meanwhile, claimed up to 13 per cent of the North’s land mass was now under one form of prospecting licence or another.

At its June meeting the E&R Committee was told that DfE had newly written to the Council to advise it that three licences - two for Dalradian and one for Flintridge - had been awarded on May 8.

The applications had originally been presented to the E&R during the Council’s last mandate in 2017 at which time the committee wrote to DfE voicing its objections.

Colr. Duffy said: “It’s extremely disappointing for DfE to have approved another prospecting licence in the Sperrins. We had a good debate and were very clear on where we stood when the matter was last raised in January.”

Colr. McCann said “no less than 13 per cent of the land mass of NI” has now been approved for mining or mineral prospecting. This, he said, was an “astonishing statistic”, adding that while prospecting licences may not always yield viable extraction operations they present a “huge financial burden to people and communities campaigning against them”.