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Dickson Amplifies Concerns of Local Residents as Islandmagee Gas Storage Project Given Green Light

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has echoed the grave concerns of Islandmagee residents, and the wider community, on the decision by the Minister of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DEARA), to issue draft marine licences for the InfraStrata Islandmagee Gas Storage Project.

Mr Dickson said: “I am extremely disappointed with the decision by the DAERA Minister to grant marine licences to the Islandmagee Gas Storage Project.

“The area around Islandmagee is known for its outstanding biodiversity, and as such has been designated a wildlife sanctuary for many of Northern Ireland’s most threatened species & habitats. The construction site for the Islandmagee project is directly within three of these protected areas, which will have a devastating effect on local wildlife such as the harbour porpoise, grey seals, and breeding seabirds.

“It is highly likely that the Project will result in the degradation of important foraging grounds for an array of different marine wildlife, as well as irreplaceable damage to seabed habitats, with serious risks to marine mammals caused by the noise pollution of construction activities”.

Mr Dickson went on to question the need for the Project, explain that: “The Department for the Economy has been clear that all of Northern Ireland’s natural gas requirements are provided via an undersea pipeline from Scotland, whilst there are established arrangements to ensure gas security of supply, including an all island arrangement. As such, it is clear this Project is far from essential”.

In echoing the general feeling of local residents, Mr Dickson called for a public inquiry into the project.

He said: “Residents are rightly demanding a public inquiry so that details of this proposal can be scrutinised in an open and transparent forum.

“In particular, the local residents are concerned about the many media references that suggest the project will “transition” to hydrogen storage. This has not been applied for, assessed for environmental impacts, or consulted upon, either by stakeholders or the public. Hydrogen is far more unstable and explosive than natural gas so residents are – quite understandably - extremely concerned”.

Mr Dickson concluded by saying that: “The decision to issue draft marine licences for the Islandmagee Gas Storage Project has very serious implications for the people, the wildlife, and the environment of Northern Ireland. The least the DEARA Minister can do, is respect and listen to the views of local residents”.


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