Campaigners have set-up a camp opposing Dalradian Gold’s plans to mine in Greencastle and are vowing to remain there until the company leaves the area.
Protesters established the ‘Twaddel-style’ camp, known as the Greencastle People’s Office (GPO), on Dalradian land off the Mullydoo Road on Saturday morning.
Dalradian Gold has declined to comment on whether it will be seeking the removal of the protesters who are understood to be claiming ‘Squatters Rights.’
Cormac McAleer, chair of the Save Our Sperrins, said they would be staying on the site “as long as it takes to see Dalradian leave Greencastle.”
“The people of this area have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of information coming forward about the plans by Dalradian Gold. This camp is a direct response to that frustration and the anger which exists locally,” he said.
“We will remain here until Dalradian abandon their plans for a goldmine in Greencastle and leave this area. That might take a year, two years or longer… but we are going to be here until that happens.
“The camp will be permanently occupied. A large number of volunteers have already come forward to offer their services to ‘man’ the site on a regular basis.
“Our aim is to also raise awareness about the need to protect the environment of this locality.”
An Irish tricolour, a Palestinian flag and the flags of Donegal, Tyrone and a number of other Irish counties have already been erected on the perimeter of the site.
The camp is situated yards from where a statue of Our Lady was desecrated last year. The statue was erected on the site of a nearby Mass Rock which has also been at the centre of controversy between Dalradian and protesters.
Dalradian later erected fencing and large boulders to block access to the area.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the firm said they were focused on the ‘serious business’ of advancing the Curraghinalt gold project and the creation of 350 ‘well-paid jobs.’
They also rejected suggestions that there had been a lack of consultation over their plans, and pointed out that their application was available on the Department for Infrastructure website and at locations including Omagh Library and Owenkillew Community Centre.
“The caravan has been placed on land owned by Dalradian,” they said.
“Last year, at this same spot, illegal fly-tipping and burning of rubbish took place. Dalradian erected a fence in September to ensure this didn’t reoccur as we endeavour to look after the land and be a good neighbour.
“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, the fence was criminally and extensively damaged by a person or persons unknown, as reported to the PSNI.”
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