Campaign groups to appeal ruling on Antrim coast gas project

Campaign groups to appeal ruling on Antrim coast gas project

Environmental campaigners have lodged an appeal challenging a High Court ruling which paves the way for controversial plans to construct gas caverns under the seabed at Larne Lough.

Mr Justice Michael Humphreys ruled in September that the decision to grant the marine license to the developers was a rational one, backed up by scientific evidence.

However, Friends of the Earth and No Gas Caverns maintain that former Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs minister Edwin Poots acted unlawfully in authorising the construction of the massive fossil fuel gas development.

The groups have now submitted an appeal which will focus on two principal grounds: the failure to refer the applications to the Executive Committee, and the taking into account of an irrelevant consideration, namely the community fund.

James Orr, director of Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, said: “We continue to stand with the residents of Islandmagee to protect this beautiful part of Northern Ireland. It is our continued belief that the destruction caused by this mining is landscape trauma. The gas caverns project is not needed, not welcome and, in our view, unlawful.

“Let’s be in no doubt that we will not be held to ransom to the fossil fuel companies behind this project. They are on the wrong side of history if they think they can drive through new fossil fuel infrastructure in a climate emergency.

“On a final point, we cannot allow Ministers to return to making “solo runs” and undermine the fundamental constitutional function of the Executive Committee.”

Lisa Dobbie, of No Gas Caverns, said: “We are so grateful to Friends of the Earth for continuing to stand with us, a group of ordinary people forced to take extraordinary action against a government department and former Minister who we believe have acted unlawfully in approving this nature wrecking major fossil fuel infrastructure.

“It is incredibly difficult for citizens to access environmental justice in Northern Ireland, but with the actions of a very determined group of residents, an expert legal team and the support of hundreds of people who have donated so generously we continue to fight for nature and our precious environment.”

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