The last of the drilling machinery rolled out of Woodburn Forest in Northern Ireland today, bringing an end to attempts to drill for oil and gas in the region a huge milestone for the Stop the Drill campaign and the local residents behind it.
Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland was delighted to be able support the work the campaign to stop the oil and gas industry from setting up in Woodburn Forest, in County Antrim Northern Ireland. Local residents and the Stop the Drill campaign held firm through four months of peaceful resistance. They kept their dignity and strength despite over £1 million in public money spent on policing and very high levels of private security.
Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland director James Orr said "From the very beginning we knew that this this was a dangerous experiment with our climate, our drinking water and our public forests.
"The fossil fuel industry will now think twice about setting up in Northern Ireland after the strength of public opinion that poured in to support the campaign. This has ensured that the unconventional fuel industry is so far dead in the water in Northern Ireland. The spirit of Woodburn forest lives on."
The next step is to clean up the mess left behind by the drills – a path used by local residents has been torn up after being used to transport heavy drilling equipment back and forth.
A spokesperson for Stop the Drill said: "Today we are celebrating and we look forward to the replanting of the forest over the winter months.
"We'll be working to ensure that the local community and the children who were such a huge part of the campaign are part of the replanting of forest and we'll continue to ensure that this protected Antrim water catchment is protected for future generations."
In May, Friends of the Earth groups from across Europe joined protests outside the test drilling site.