Wednesday, 13 August 2014

"Your Heritage Needs You" - BUT

Minister Durkan, speaking at a special NIEA-organised First World War commemoration event at Grey Point Fort, Helen’s Bay, said: “Today, 100 years on from the outbreak of the First World War, many of us will have a renewed interest and appreciation of those events. With this interest and appreciation, I hope there will also be greater understanding of the events at that time, many of which have shaped the lives of our families over the past hundred years. It is therefore fitting that I am today launching Phase 2 of the Defence Heritage Project at a state care monument with direct connections to that time. Central to the project is the participation of the wider public, working with my Department, to find, record and share the defence heritage structures across our landscape.

“These sites have direct, and often poignant, connections to past generations, whose lives were shaped and affected by conflicts that engulfed Europe. Through public participation I hope there will be greater awareness of the rich legacy of heritage features that still survive, helping us understand the times past and protect them for future generations.” ..

NIEA is now seeking more volunteers to help record and further update the Defence Heritage Record. In particular, those features from the early twentieth century that have yet to be surveyed. .. DOE Press Release, Monday, August 4, 2014

Curiously enough, the press release makes no mention of the long-term and short-term agency staff that are about to be 'fired' - including some of the staff at Grey Point Fort and Dunluce Castle. The department, ironically, is helping to enlarge the pool of potential volunteers.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Causeway Coast AONB & Giants Causeway World Heritage Site Townlands, Fieldnames & Featurenames project


The Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust invite you to participate in an initial project meeting for our Townlands, Fieldnames and Feature Names Project of the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Giants Causeway World Heritage Site which is being led by Quarto Consultants. 

The meeting will be held in 
Portballintrae Village Hall on 
Tuesday 12th August 2014 at 2pm.

This project aims to investigate the connections between the landscape of the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the townlands, fieldnames and feature names of the area. This information will be presented in a mobile exhibition throughout the area on completion of the project. 

If you could confirm your attendance by Friday 8th August by emailing or calling the CCGHT office on 028 20752100 it would be greatly appreciated.

This was the invitation to tender in June 2014 [pdf file]

Some links

Placenames of Northern Ireland - including some meanings and townland maps. eg Lisserluss

Ordnance Survey Election maps - choose local authority/district council area and tick townlands overlay.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

To Frack or Not to Frack - a Perforated Ulster?

Four ministers and a quandary
Some may say YES; some may say NO

The controversies surrounding fracking [pdf file] may well have implications, short term and long term, for four Northern Ireland Executive ministries: Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Environment and Agriculture and Rural Development.

Perforated Ulster?

Numbers of Boreholes & Gas Wells
o Several initial exploration boreholes needed to sample, test & pump collectively. 
o Production wells roughly 1km apart
o Clusters of 4 to 10 wells linked to a central gas gathering station by pipelines. 
o Each well needs facilities at ground level of 0.5-1hectare in plan. 
o Each well may operate for 20-25 years.

“I have been consistently clear that no fracking will happen on my watch unless there is very strong scientific evidence that it is safe both for public health and the environment. That evidence simply does not exist at this time." .. Mark H Durkan, DOE minister [29 July 2014]

So who will be carrying out the environmental impact assessment? Will it be directed by the drilling companies, by a government department or by an independent agency?

"DETI and other regulators, notably DoE, will undertake detailed scrutiny of any proposals in the context of the rigorous international engineering protocols that are now emerging.

“So we can hardly impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing because no permit has yet been issued. Nor is any application expected for 12-18 months. During that period we shall reap the benefit of several in-depth scientific and engineering studies currently in progress, notably in the US.

“Not only might domestic shale gas production help to provide energy independence but it could play a significant role in job creation. I firmly believe that Northern Ireland needs to explore the potential that shale gas offers, to even consider imposing a moratorium at this early stage would reek of a missed opportunity.” .. Arlene Foster, DETI minister. [6 December 2011]

A recent major incident at a fracking site at Clarington, Ohio, USA, should be a clarion call to all four ministers, as well as to the public at large:

"Ohio firefighters battled the blaze for an entire week. Before they managed to fully extinguish it, the fire caused some 30 explosions that rained shrapnel over the surrounding area; 20 trucks on the site caught fire; and tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals -- including a toxic soup of diesel fuel, hydrochloric acid, and ethylene glycol -- mixed with run-off into the nearby creek, killing an estimated 70,000 fish as far as five miles downstream. ..

The preliminary EPA report on the accident in Ohio makes for eye-opening reading. After the fire began on June 28, local, state, and federal officials worked straight through the July 4th holiday to contain the accident but their efforts were hampered by poor inter-agency coordination and a lack of adequate information about the hazards involved. ..

Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says the Ohio case clearly highlights the need for laws across the country to better protect the public. As he puts it, "It is totally unacceptable that claims about trade secrets should be allowed to trump public health and safety."

Have our government departments got measures in place to deal with the issues raised by the Clarington incident, should any of the drilling companies be tempted to operate beyond the limitations specified in the drilling licences?

Added August 5

"Does shale development make economic sense? ..

The big snag with shale wells is that output falls away very quickly indeed after production begins. Compared with “normal” oil and gas wells, where output typically decreases by 7pc-10pc annually, rates of decline for shale wells are dramatically worse. It is by no means unusual for production from each well to fall by 60pc or more in the first 12 months of operations alone.

Faced with such rates of decline, the only way to keep production rates up (and to keep investors on side) is to drill yet more wells. This puts operators on a "drilling treadmill", which should worry local residents just as much as investors. Net cash flow from US shale has been negative year after year, and some of the industry’s biggest names have already walked away.

The seemingly inevitable outcome for the US shale industry is that, once investors wise up, and once the drilling sweet spots have been used, production will slump, probably peaking in 2017-18 and falling precipitously after that. The US is already littered with wells that have been abandoned, often without the site being cleaned up." .. source

Added August 11

A Minister says NO

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

'North Antrim has captured my heart' - Byron from Augusta, GA, USA

[click image to enlarge]

Walking on the ancestral sod has a special meaning for many folks whose ancestors departed these shores many moons ago, often never to return.

Jane and Daniel Hodgson are on their way back, this time with children and grandchildren as part of a golden wedding anniversary celebration.