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Over £400,000 spent on policing Sperrins gold mine site

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THE local policing partnership has been urged to examine how £400,000 has been spent policing the controversial gold mine site in the Sperrin Mountains near Greencastle.
 
In response to a Freedom of Information request by James Orr from Friends of the Earth, it emerged that £437,610 was spent between August last year and June this year.
 
West Tyrone’s Green Party representative Ciaran McClean said serious concerns were building over the apparent level of financial support being offered to Dalradian – the company behind the gold mine at Curraghinalt.
 
“The amount of public money underwriting and subsidising Dalradian’s operations is constantly rising and now includes operating grants from Invest NI of more than £330,000 and policing costs in excess of £500,000.
 
“As essential public services are stripped from West Tyrone, Dalradian are cashing in on Executive funding despite the weight of community support going against their mine and cyanide processing plant in Greencastle,” said Mr McClean.
 
“That the PSNI refuses to provide any detail as to the make-up of these costs and their projected future impact on the policing budget is very worrying indeed.”
 
He added, “The impression is being given that Dalradian has been given a blank cheque signed by the Northern Ireland Executive.
 
‘Cover costs’
 
James Orr said Dalradian should cover the security costs.
 
“This is over £400,000 for nine months, so it is realistic to assume the costs are over £1million (since operations began).
 
“What we see by this type of development is that the community has been left to pay the price.”
 
He added, “It’s not just the cost of policing, but the destruction of landscapes and the fracturing of communities.”
 
Opposition to the gold mine has seen dozens of posters erected by the Save the Sperrins group along the rural roads surrounding Greencastle.
 
Local residents have voiced their anger over the use of cyanide at the proposed processing plant, believing it poses a serious risk to their health and environment.
 
But the company have insisted that they will have proper safety measures in place for the cyanide.
 
Responding to the policing costs figure, a spokesperson for Dalradian said, “Policing is a public service not a private one and no other business in our sector pays for policing.
 
“Instead they contribute through taxation to the public purse which in turn funds the police service.”
 
The company said it was normal practice and a legal requirement for police to escort explosives to and from quarry sites.
 
The PSNI refused to give a breakdown of the costs, pointing to the threat posed by ‘terrorists who may seek to exploit the information.’
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