A GREENCASTLE Sinn Féin councillor has described plans to build a gold mine and processing plant using cyanide in the village as a “total and absolute waste of time”.
Sean Clarke, who is a member of Mid-Ulster District Council, made the comments during a debate on the issue at the council’s monthly meeting on Thursday night when a motion opposing the application was passed.
In a scathing attack on the proposal by Dalradian Gold Ltd, councillor Clarke went on to describe the controversial project as a “hare-brained scheme”.
“It’s a total and absolute waste of time. I live on the banks of the Broughderg River which then becomes the Owenkillew.
“If anything ever went wrong and cyanide was leaked into that river, then the whole Foyle system would be destroyed,” he said.
“There can be no mistakes and there is all this nonsense that it would be controlled and protected.
“But one mistake and nothing can be controlled.
“The size of what is being planned here is near enough on the top of a hill with a bank of about 100 feet high also to be constructed.
“There is a metre and a half of rain each year in this area and who could say that this level of ground could be controlled.”
He continued, “This is a hair-brained scheme built on the nonsense of creating of jobs when we have thousands of vacancies in this council area.”
The motion was passed by a majority vote, with the DUP councillors voting against.
Praise for protestors
But there were angry exchanges when an amendment from the Independent councillor, Barry Monteith, was ruled out of order.
The Dungannon-based politician had proposed that any and all future plans for the mining of precious metals in the Sperrins should also be banned.
However, he was told that this could leave the council open to legal action, and that a policy such as this would need to be formulated as part of a local development plan.
He went on to praise the campaign groups in Tyrone and South Derry who were raising awareness of gold mining and prospecting in the region.
“People have been fighting this campaign long before anyone in this chamber was raising the issue.
“We need to give them a democratic voice and if this is not the place to set council policy on such an important issue, then I don’t know where is.”