Northern Ireland

Fracking firm Tamboran obtains Belcoo quarry injunction

Anti-fracking protesters
Image caption Protesters have been staging a round-the-clock vigil at the site near Belcoo

A company which plans to use fracking to extract natural gas in County Fermanagh has obtained a High Court injunction to stop protesters getting close to a County Fermanagh quarry.

Tamboran Resources intends to drill an exploratory borehole near Belcoo next month to collect rock samples.

Since Monday, protesters against the controversial fracking technique have held a vigil at the site entrance.

Police say they have plans in place to deal with any protests.

The quarry is owned by Acheson and Glover and Tamboran has taken out a four-month lease to carry out exploratory drilling work.

The court order prohibits people from entering or occupying land at Gandrum Road, or preventing Tamboran from carrying out exploratory mining operations and obstructing access to and from the site.

Tamboran said that after they moved equipment into the quarry, a number of individuals sought to gain unlawful access to the site.

"In order to protect the safety of local people, site security and protesters we have sought and secured an order for an injunction to deter anyone from seeking unlawful access," the company said.

"Tamboran respects people's right to protest and we welcome calls from local people to ensure that the protests are peaceful.

"It is important to stress that the company is undertaking work it is required to do under the terms of the licence from government and intends to meet its obligations in full."

"The company also believes the people of Fermanagh and Northern Ireland have a right to know if the gas is present.

"We suggest that given the potential benefit this can bring to everyone in terms of investment, jobs and critically energy security that this deserves serious consideration and debate.

"This is a straight-forward drilling operation, it is not fracking. We would ask that people approach with an open mind and willingness to listen to all the facts before making an informed decision.

"People have a right to the facts and that is what we are seeking to establish with this project."

In an affidavit presented to the High Court in Belfast, Karl Prenderville, commercial director of Tamboran Resources (UK), said they expected substantial opposition to their operations and that anonymous threats had been received.

He said during a protest involving 300 people at the site on Monday, four security staff were assaulted and damage caused to the perimeter fence.

He said the company had no wish to stifle legitimate and peaceful protest and had no difficulty with people who wish to protest on public land, where this did not interfere with access to, or exploratory operations on the site, or cause injury to people or damage property.

Protesters have set up what they have called the Belcoo Community Protection Camp outside the entrance to the quarry and said they want their protest to be peaceful.

The site is protected by metal fences and razor wire, and is guarded by a private security company.

Last summer, the village of Balcombe in West Sussex was the scene of large anti-fracking demonstrations, with more than 1,000 people setting up camp at the height of the protests.

The PSNI said earlier this week that as part of their plans, they have looked at similar policing operations.

"The role of the police is to facilitate lawful activity by Tamboran and their agents, facilitate peaceful protest and minimise the potential for disorder," a spokeswoman said.

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