Victory! No drilling in Belcoo

11th August – Victory Night in Belcoo

What a night!  Campaigners in Belcoo were still trying to take it in at 9 o’clock tonight.  The campaign has won its first battle and a halt has been put to Tamboran’s attempt to drill an exploratory well without planning permission or environmental impact assessment (EIA).  All weekend, campaigners were tense, wondering what this week would bring.  There was a strong feeling that, if permission was given for drilling, the rig would arrive within hours and a confrontation seemed inevitable. There were few smiles and a lot of worry.

Then, all of a sudden, the weight was lifted off everyone’s shoulders – the verdict was given from Stormont and a big cheer went up from the camp.  “We did it!  We’ve won!” People were hugging each other, beaming, this was something that everyone could rejoice in – young, old, from both traditions, from all parties or none – it was an amazing scene.  Heavy showers were not even felt.  And to mark this new beginning, a rainbow framed the land beside the camp.

“Permitted development rights do not apply”
Rainbow in belcoo 110814

Rainbow in Belcoo this evening

The Minister for Environment (N.I.), Mark H Durkan in a short speech had given his judgement.   “I have given very careful consideration to Tamboran’s proposal to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry near Belcoo and whether this is permitted development under current legislation. I have concluded that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply. In making this assessment I have been mindful of my Department’s responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times and that full consideration is give to any likely significant environmental impacts of such a proposal.”

He also said, “In arriving at this decision I believe I must proceed on the basis of a precautionary principle.”  This is an important statement.  It means that the industry must prove that the proposed project is safe; this includes evaluating all risks and proposing prevention and management strategies.

We have won

But tonight is not a night for too much analysis other than knowing that, while an important battle is won, the war continues.  For tonight we can rejoice and be glad.  The overwhelming feeling is love – love of the land, love of each other, even love of this campaign that has brought us together, regardless of creed, class or culture.  And we have won!

We have shown it can be done!




  1. jerc47 says:

    Fantastic news. Delighted for all of us who call this small part of the planet home! Renewable, sustainable energies are what we need, NOT a continuous reliance on fossil fuels. Well done to everyone involved at Belcoo and THANKYOU.

  2. Well done.

  3. Thanks to all who fought this battle in different ways, who didn’t give up, and when crunch time came, showed how effective a campaign can be that focuses on winning hearts and minds peacefully. Great to know you all!

    • Karen delahay says:

      Well done and congratulations.
      We in swanage in Dorset are fighting a similar situation however we are in the unfortunate situation that the application for a temporary rig was approved by Dorset County CouncIl November again without EIA or even a visit by the planning board councillors to the site which has numerous designations and mitigations on it. All of which seemed to mean nothing. The site california Quarry lies next to the unesco Jurassic Heritage Coast and it is the company Infrastrata, that has a site in Northern Ireland that put in the application. They have not agreed to signing any agreement to ensure Shale Bed fracking will take place in future. Consequently our fears and concerns seem justified. Works are due to start next month. The local council refused to discuss it prior to its approval siting a declaration of interest a owners of the access road.
      I am pleased to hear you were successful as a community in fighting your case. It will strengthen our resolve to continue our fight.

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