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Court ruling clears way for underground goldmine


AN underground goldmine in Omagh which could create over 100 jobs is now set to go ahead after a legal challenge against the granting of planning permission for the project was dismissed.

Cavanacaw man, Billy Donnelly, had sought leave for the Judicial Review on the grounds that the Department of Environment breached regulations when it gave the green light for the development by Omagh Minerals back in 2015.

At the High Court in Belfast on Friday, Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan, concluded that none of the seven grounds of challenge which formed the basis for Mr Donnelly’s argument could be established.

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She then dismissed the application by him, in a decision which means that the plans by Omagh Minerals can now proceed.

Speaking following the judgement, which came after three days of hearings at the end of last year and earlier this year, Mr Donnelly, who brought the case without legal representation, expressed his disappointment.

However, he said he is considering lodging an appeal within the next 21 days.

“This judgement is not entirely unexpected because these types of environmental cases have a habit of proceeding to the appeal stage which is where this one is most probably going now,” he told the Tyrone Herald.

“My intention is to read the lengthy judgement in detail over the next few days and then decide on what my next course of action will be.

“Perhaps the most disappointing element is the fact that the environmental assessment was based on a proposed development of a 60 hectare site and a total of around 80 hectares were approved. It is unbelievable to me that this particular ground for appeal and the others have been dismissed.”

However, Roland Phelps, chief executive of Galantas Gold, the parent company of Omagh Minerals, welcomed the judgement saying that it was one that had ‘not surprised’ him considering what he described as the company’s ‘very good environmental record’.

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“We will now continue with the development of the underground mine. People are already being employed and trained and the aim is to get the mine into full production,” he said.

“This case has been comprehensively considered by Mrs Justice Keegan who has come to a very positive conclusion which has cleared away part of the uncertainty surrounding our underground mine.

“The concerns raised during this application for Judicial Review have been deemed unfounded. It’s a matter of record that the process which we use is non-toxic, and there is no acid drainage from the site and is in fact of benefit to the local waterways.”

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