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‘Council may legally challenge gold-mine plans’ - Begley

20 July, 2019 - by Órfhlaith Begley

Derry and Strabane District Council may be set to launch a new legal bid against the Department of Economy’s decision to grant mineral prospecting licenses in advance of a full public inquiry into controversial gold-mining plans, Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley has revealed.

Commenting after legal advice was received by the council, the West Tyrone MP welcomed the prospect of a judicial review being taken against the department.

Órfhlaith Begley said: “In January 2017, then Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard instructed departmental officials that any planning application in relation to the controversial Dalradian gold mine project must be subjected to a full independent public inquiry.

"And when the consultation on issuing mineral prospecting licences was opened in 2017, Sinn Féin strongly opposed the granting of any licences in advance of such a public inquiry.

“Therefore the department’s unilateral decision to push ahead with granting licenses is entirely unacceptable. When this decision was taken back in early May, I wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the department and strongly objected.

“A gold-mining planning application has now also been submitted and a public inquiry has not yet been established.

"It remains Sinn Féin's position that these licences should not be granted in advance of the conclusion of a public inquiry and therefore we welcome the legal advice which now paves the way for a Judicial Review on this matter."

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