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Landslide raises windfarm fears  

Credit:  The Ballymoney Chronicle | 7 August 2014 | ballymoney.thechronicle.uk.com ~~

A huge half mile landslide containing hundreds of tonnes of liquefied bog that swept from the side of Croaghan Hill last Saturday has reopened questions about a nine turbine Windfarm soon to be built nearby.

Luckily no one was injured during the incident, which occurred after prolonged heavy rain, but it is clear from film taken of the incident that anyone caught up in it would have been killed.

The chaotic slurry swept across Altarichard Road at its intersection with the Croaghan Way walking trail, blocking the road and destroying two footbridges, eco matting and stiles belonging to the way marked trail.

The road was still blocked on Monday night when Ballymoney Mayor Alderman Bill Kennedy raised the incident at the full council meeting describing the half mile long and 70ft wide landslide as ‘very serious’.

Independent councillor Anita Cavlan wanted to know if there was any impact in the area nearby where the Altarichard Windfarm, recently approved by planners, would be built.
“Risk of landslide was one of the points the Orra Action Group, who opposed the Windfarm, raised,” she said.

Alderman Kennedy said he didn’t think it was on the same footprint, but acknowledged that if it was, then it would be a serious problem.

“You or I or other members of the public wouldn’t get permission, if that was the case,” he told Cllr Cavlan, “Perhaps council can find out – and planners should be made aware,” he said. Cllr Cavlan asked if this could be done, and Mayor Kennedy said it could.

Mayor Kennnedy also said that the closure of the Croaghan Way, which is advertised in all the tourist literature and on websites, was a great loss to the borough’s tourist walk product.

“I hope when things settle we will be able to get round the table and explore if a new trail can be formed,” he said.

The council’s Countryside Access Officer, Sonya Crawford, who has regularly led walks along the trail, has been liaising with the landowners.

Speaking on Monday she said: “Unfortunately because of this landslide, the Croaghan Trail is now closed to the public at the request of the landowners Blakiston-Houston Estates, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

Sonya continued: “We are working with them to make sure that everyone knows that it is closed and I have been busy getting the trail removed from Walk NI and other websites. I asked the owner’s land manager to try to save one of the trail’s information boards, which he did. Thank goodness no one was on the trail at the time, because they wouldn’t have survived.”

Work to clear the road began early on Monday afternoon and prior to going to press on Tuesday morning a DRD spokesperson confirmed to the Chronicle that some access for farmers using agricultural vehicles to tend to their livestock had been restored.

The spokesperson continued: “Provided that there is no significant underlying structural damage the Department is aiming to have the Altarichard Road open for traffic again later today (Tuesday).”

Source:  The Ballymoney Chronicle | 7 August 2014 | ballymoney.thechronicle.uk.com

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