‘Stop the Drill’ group welcomes change on permitted development rights

The news that permitted development rights (PDR) for oil and gas exploration will be removed has been welcomed by an environmental group.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 2:13 pm
Archive image: The 2016 drill project at Woodburn Forest. PACEMAKER BELFAST

Don’t Drill Antrim Water, whose ‘Stop the Drill’ campaign heavily opposed the project to create an exploratory borehole at Woodburn Forest, had been calling for the change for several years.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced on Monday her intention to change planning rules on PDR, which allowed for certain types of development to take place without the need for planning permission.

Certain projects can still proceed without planning permission subject to limitations, such as upgrades on masts and antennas and recharging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

However, PDR for petroleum exploration will be removed.

“We welcome Minister Mallon’s announcement that she intends to remove permitted development rights for exploratory oil and gas exploration,” Don’t Drill Antrim Water said.

“The removal of permitted development rights for oil and gas will ensure that citizens of Northern Ireland will have the right to participate in planning decisions in respect of future petroleum exploration.”

InfraStrata’s exploration project at Woodburn began in 2016 after PDR were granted three years earlier.

Exploration was wound up in June 2016 after the project failed to find any trace of hydrocarbons.