‘Council may legally challenge gold-mine plans’ - 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."