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Tamboran director ceases safety work in caves due to time constraints

Story by Damian McCarney

Tuesday, 13th November, 2012 5:11pm

Tamboran director ceases safety work in caves due to time constraints

Dr Tony Bazley of Tamboran

Damian McCarney

A senior member of the company which aims to extract gas in the Lough Allen Basin through fracking has been carrying out safety checks in Marble Arch caves at the Geopark, The Anglo-Celt can reveal.

Dr Tony Bazley has been carrying out an annual geological safety check of the caves for over 20 years as part of Fermanagh District Council's standard health and safety procedures.

Tamboran Resources was awarded a licensing option for a section of the Lough Allen Basin in Spring 2011. This area takes in large sections of counties Cavan, Leitrim and Fermanagh including Marble Arch, although it is unimaginable that the company would seek to, or be permitted to, drill in the immediate vicinity of the caves.

A spokesman for Fermanagh District Council said that Dr Bazley carried out this safety work in his capacity as "an independent geology consultant with specific expertise in assessing the stability of rock structures".

Although Marble Arch Caves form part of the Geopark spanning Counties Fermanagh and Cavan, the work has been undertaken solely for Fermanagh District Council.

Dr Tony Bazley, regional director of Tamboran, has told The Anglo-Celt that he will no longer carry out the work due to time considerations.

Dr Bazley took on an expanded role of regional director in September after Richard Moorman stepped down as CEO. He performed the checks on the caves last year however, and in addressing a public meeting in Ballyconnell in September 2011, his role was described as Director of Environmental and Community Affairs.

Asked a number of questions by The Anglo-Celt, including if the role for Fermanagh District Council presented a conflict of interests Dr Bazley responded:

"I made safety checks at the Marble Arch caves for nearly 20 years. There was no contract. It arose in the first instance because of my work in geo-tourism and continued really as a friend of the Geopark.

"I am pleased that during the time I gave advice the cave safety record was excellent, mostly of course due to the diligence of the staff of the Geopark.

"The Geopark authorities know that I will not have time to carry out safety checks whilst I have my present job with Tamboran Resources."

Asked if there is a conflict of interest in his work for Fermanagh District Council and his position as a senior member within Tamboran, a spokesman for the Council told The Anglo-Celt: "We are taking steps to ascertain exactly what his role is with Tamboran."

They also clarified that Dr Bazley has not undertaken any work in the wider Geopark for the council and that his fee for doing the work as an independent geology consultant was "less than £400".

Dr Bazley is a former director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), but left in 1998. GSNI is a part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), which is the body which granted the licence to Tamboran in the North.

Speaking to The Anglo-Celt in September 2011 Dr Bazley, insisted that there was no conflict of interest given his former position as GSNI director.

"No I have been away from that organisation for 10 years," explained Mr Bazley, when asked if there was a conflict of interest. "And since then I have been working quite separately in consultancy work largely in landscape conservation."

In September 2011 he also denied knowing anyone in DETI itself, nor specifically those within the minerals branch of DETI in the GSNI office until the company applied for the licence.

Meanwhile, under the terms of its licensing options Tamboran is required to submit its work report to the Petroleum Affairs Division - the relevant regulating body in the Republic - by the end of this month. They then intend to apply for an exploration licence.

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