Work is proceeding in Woodburn Forest, near Carrickfergus (NI), to construct a drill site for an exploratory well.
The Stop the Drill campaign opposes the drilling, which will take place 380 m uphill from a major drinking water reservoir serving 130,000 people, arguing that it places drinking water at risk of contamination. The site is owned by NI Water, Northern Irelandís only water utility, which has given permission for the drilling by Infrastrata to go ahead, on the condition that hydraulic fracturing is not used.
Protesters have maintained a presence at the site since mid-February and have received support from actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo, who announced that the clean water advocacy group he founded, Water Defence, will send water-testing kits to local residents.
Campaigners from Stop the Drill protest that the work has been allowed to go ahead without an approved waste management plan and that permitted development rights have been granted "by default" by the Department of the Environment (DoE) by ignoring a request for its views on the project.
InfraStrata sought an injunction against protesters at the site, but the legal action was adjourned until after workmen moved onto the site, and the protesters were warned not to obstruct the work. Confirmation was given to Lord Justice Girvan on March 10 that contractors were able to access the site without obstruction