Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and Chairman of the Stormont Public Accounts Committee, has called on the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council “to formally join the growing opposition to the threat to the region posed by open cast lignite mining”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is also UUP Chief Whip and North Antrim UUP Chairman, issued his appeal as he expressed his concern that according to a letter he has received from the Council, it “is unable to confirm that Council will not permit open cast mining in Ballymoney as part of the new Local Development Plan”.
Assemblyman Swann is a long-time campaigner against proposals to start open cast lignite mining in the region. He believes the lignite mine would “turn North Antrim into an economic wasteland, with devastating consequences for the constituency’s much-needed farming industry and many of the area’s existing rural communities”.
Referring to the Council’s response, Assemblyman Swann added: “Currently, the Council’s Statement of Community Intent and Local Development Plan are with the Sinn Fein Minister of Infrastructure for agreement.
“When he has agreed them, I would encourage everyone in North Antrim to once again come together and reject any idea that open cast lignite mining would be in anyway beneficial to our community.
“Lignite mining will not create employment to replace the jobs already lost, especially in the Ballymena area. Rather, lignite mining will have the opposite effect and will have very dire consequences for the entire tourism and recreational industries in our constituency.
“The Council should make its position clear and I have asked the Minister for Infrastructure to approve its plans as soon as possible to allow the consultation to go ahead to let the public’s voice to be heard. I appeal to the Council to formally join the war against lignite mining proposals and protect our wonderful North Antrim,” said Assemblyman Swann.