Steam train enthusiasts have added their voices to the campaign of opposition against development proposals for Cloghan Point oil terminal at Whitehead.
Renowned heritage site, Whitehead Railway Museum joins residents, political representatives and celebrities who have come out against the plan for the redevelopment of the existing site - which has been operational since 1979 - to an import, storage and distribution facility, incorporating petrol, gas oil and diesel
Opponents claim the project will result in additional traffic on already busy roads between Whitehead and Belfast, attract ‘super tankers’ in the waters around the Co Antrim town and create risks for wildlife, built heritage, road safety and the tourist industry.
At the museum’s recent Model Railway Day, Lisa Adair, manager, claimed the plans would put the attraction’s future in jeopardy as it could compromise the operation of the railway line, which goes through the oil terminal site.
She said: “Our museum is a unique offering here in Whitehead. If we can’t run our steam trains, then we then don’t have the income to support our museum as a static offering.
“We are part of a tight community here in Whitehead and we are working with a lot of local communities. Not to be able to do that would be so wrong.”
John McKegney, of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, said: “We’d be very concerned. We have an award-winning museum and workshop here that contain steam trains that go all over Ireland.
“It brings people from all over the world to our attractions and our trains, and it’s vital that we have access south from Whitehead down to Carrickfergus and the rest of the Irish railway system. If we were blocked, it would be the end for us.”
LCC Group, the Cookstown-based company behind the application, said it is aware of community concerns and will be making further information available in due course.
A spokesperson for Cloghan Point Holdings Ltd said: “LCC are currently meeting with local political parties in order to create a better understanding of our aims and objectives in relation to this project. The political parties have articulated local concerns very clearly to our project team.
“There are a number of studies currently being conducted by the project team, these findings will be made public on completion which we expect to be in the second quarter of 2020.”
Meanwhile, the No to Cloghan Point group, which is spearheading opposition to the application, is having a joint meeting with Extinction Rebellion: Northern Ireland (XRNI) on December 4 at 7pm in Whitehead Community Centre. The session will offer information relating to climate change, Extinction Rebellion and concerns over the impact of the Cloghan Point plan on the environment.
Andy Glenn, spokesperson for No to Cloghan Point, said: “We are very happy that an organisation with such strong beliefs around environmental issues, and with such a high profile, are prepared to help us out with our cause.”