The northern half of Co Armagh could be used for large-scale oil and gas exploration.
The Department of Economy is currently considering an application to give access to prospective extractors the chance to explore 1,742km of Northern Ireland – most of which is in Armagh.
Newly-elected Alliance councillor Peter Lavery brought a motion before the ABC Council’s governance committee outlining his concern for such action.
However, speaking to Armagh I, councillor Lavery expressed his disappointment when his attempts to protect the local environment, he says, “from the impact of oil exploration in the South Lough Neagh area was blocked by the DUP, UUP and SDLP”.
“This is an extremely concerning issue, and one which has the potential to cause lasting damage to the local environment,” he said.
“So before we go any further we must be sure of all the facts before giving the go ahead.
“I’m disappointed that the DUP, UUP and SDLP saw fit to completely ignore my proposal and I would encourage local people to get in touch with their local councillors – particularly from those parties – to encourage them to change their mind on their support for these petroleum licenses.
“Alliance won’t stop here and I will be re-submitting my proposal to oppose them during the main Council meeting on June 24, where we will hopefully see sense prevail on this issue.”
Speaking earlier this week, Chair of Belfast City Council’s People and Communities committee, Michael Collins, said any plans to drill for oil or gas here “fly right in the face” of sustainable development and the climate catastrophe.
The People Before Profit representative said: “There’s an application in to drill for oil in an area of over 1000km. It encompasses the whole surrounding area of Lough Neagh right up to West and North Belfast.
“It was put out for consultation to councils because there is no minister.
“We had it in committee on Tuesday and it was recommended by council management to go along with it, but the committee unanimously voted it down.
“It is still to be ratified in the full council meeting, but we are fairly confident.”
If granted, the petroleum licences allow firms “to explore for, bore for and get” petroleum in Northern Ireland without any environmental assessments.