Multi-agency mine rescue exercise in Northern Ireland

The exercise was attended by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Northern Ireland has approximately 2400 abandoned mine workings, the legacy of historic mining activity that has taken place over the past 400 years. The Department for the Economy (DfE), the Northern Ireland civil service within which the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) sits, has responsibility for all abandoned mines, and therefore also to minimise public risk and ensure adequate plans are in place in the event of a major incident.

The GSNI, together with the DfE, has been working with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to develop a regional abandoned mine emergency response plan, which has involved bringing together a number of agencies including the emergency services; mountain, mine and cave rescue organisations, and regional resilience groups.

On 21 September 2018, a live exercise to test the abandoned mine emergency response plan took part at the Marble Arch Caves. The exercise tested the capability to respond and perform a rescue in various situations associated with a mine shaft collapse, a major subsidence event and a person trapped within an abandoned mine.

The event attracted significant media attention that provided the opportunity to highlight the risks associated with abandoned mines. It also helped to publicise the work that the GSNI and the DfE do to minimise public risk and to prepare, through a multi-agency approach, for all major incidents with abandoned mines in Northern Ireland.

This event was the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and brought together a number of agencies and organisations highlighting the need to work together to achieve a common goal. The exercise was attended by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who met with all of the organisations that took place and witnessed some of the scenarios that were tested.

To see some of the media coverage on BBC Newsline you can catch up on the BBC iPlayer.


26 September 2018