The Rathlin Basin covers a huge area across the celebrated north coast of Northern Ireland. It stretches from Limavady in County Derry/Londonderry to Ballycastle in County Antrim, and as far inland as Garvagh. This area is an outstanding tourist destination, providing world class, breath-taking, unspoilt scenery. Within the Rathlin Basin are numerous areas designated as ‘protected’ in some way, including:
- Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site—the Giant’s Causeway (an outstanding example representing major stages of the earth’s history and contains superlative natural phenomena).
- Six Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)—the North Antrim Coast, the Garry Bog, Binevenagh, the Bann Estuary, the River Roe and Tributaries, and the River Faughan and Tributaries, (to provide increased protection to a variety of animals, plants and habitats of importance to biodiversity both on a national and international scale).
- At least five National Nature Reserves – Portrush, Ballymaclary, Binevenagh, Giant’s Causeway and Altikeeragh, (chosen from among the very best examples of our wildlife, habitats and geology, and publicly recognised by Government for their importance).
For over a decade Rathlin Energy Ltd has studied the geology of Antrim and Londonderry convinced there was the potential for an indigenous energy industry based on local oil and gas. In 2008 they drilled an oil exploration well at Ballinlea 2.5 km deep and did indeed discover oil. Rathlin Energy has been granted an exploration licence in 2011 to continue their exploration. That licence covers the onshore area of the Rathlin Basin, stretching between Ballycastle, Limavady and Ballymoney. They intend to drill a new exploratory well in Ballinlea early in 2015 and have carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment, due to be lodged with the Local Authorities.