A day in the life of Ruth Mulligan, Environmental Technician
Growing up with a farming background in the Clogher valley of rural Tyrone I have always been interested in the wildlife around me. My parents encouraged it. My father taught me species of trees and seasonal flowers and my mum took me to the local wildlife watch group. They also encouraged me to continue me to continue this interest in ‘green issues’ by studying geography at school and later to carry this on to university level to complete a BSc in Geography and Environmental Management in 2009.
After studying in England, I wanted to come home to work. However due to the economic downturn of 2008 I was unable to find work locally, either in my chosen field of study, or of a permanent nature. As i wanted to stay home like many others i decided to work in temporary jobs in Tyrone, Fermanagh and Belfast until things improved; work was work after all. Two years later, which included a six month exchange trip to Australia, i had success and started a temporary contract in the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency, where i stayed for 3 years working in Lisburn and Fermanagh in the Freshwater Ecology, Industrial Consents and Regional Operations ( ASSI & Nature Reserve) teams.
It was during this time that i first heard about Dalradian Gold and thought that they would be an interesting company to work for. Like many others,when i first heard of it, I was astounded at the thought of gold here in Tyrone. In 2015 I started working in the Dalradian Environmental Team. Employment with Dalradian in a well-paid, permanent job has given me the opportunity to fulfil my ambitions of working locally and in my chosen field. My siblings have all been forced to emigrate or move to New Zealand, Scotland and Belfast to find work in their own chosen careers. Working with Dalradian has given me, and my parents, the certainty that at least one of their children is able to stay, live and work locally. If the planning application is approved, it will give the opportunity to at least 350 other people to stay, work and live locally in permanent well-paid, skilled jobs.
Working within the Environment Team I witness first-hand the rigour with which the company approaches environmental issues. Dalradian has engaged a variety of independent experts to ensure stringent, best practice operations are in place for our environmental monitoring and mitigation programmes. The environment team is the second largest in the company with six staff currently employed. I manage the environmental monitoring programme for Dalradian. We do this year-round in all weather conditions and it involves extensive monitoring of dust, air quality, noise, river and ground water quality monitoring. We do this work using independent accredited laboratories and established methodologies and protocols.
These baseline studies are completed to ensure a continuous picture is built up of seasonal changes within the local area. This requires me to be very organised to ensure all sampling is completed in a timely manner. Each sampling campaign requires advance planning, ordering in any required equipment, conducting the fieldwork and arranging the samples to be sent to the respective laboratories, and checking and recording results when they come back in.
I know I am exceptionally lucky to be able to work in the Sperrins, it is after all an area of outstanding natural beauty. To be able to work in the dramatic landscapes, from our most recent sun drenched days during the heatwaves to the lush greenness in spring and to see the white bog cotton in the late spring change to the purple heather in summer, the moody grey skies of autumn and the wildness and beauty of bleak mid-winter, I can appreciate all that this part of the world has to offer. I’m proud of my role of helping to establish environmental baselines in the vicinity of the project and how this will contribute to this area’s future protection by providing benchmarks for future reference. This is my home, and if this company didn’t take environmental matters seriously. I genuinely wouldn’t be working here.
The potential benefit of this industry to the local area is astounding. I am a young person who has been able to stay, live and work close to home, in my chosen field of study, in a permanent job earning enough to save for a deposit on a mortgage. My interest and experience in environmental issues also gives me the ability o be confident in my employer, Dalradian, that they have genuine commitment and willingness to protect the local environment, mitigating against harm and ensuring that the local population and wildlife will benefit greatly from a world class mine in county Tyrone.
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