Campaigners calling for the removal of a wind turbine at Knock Iveagh outside Rathfriland say they are deeply concerned by the failure of planners at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to take action and halt development.
Knock Iveagh is the site of a large scheduled monument, a Neolithic burial cairn, and archaeological experts believe it was the location for ritual ‘Royal’ inaugurations going back thousands of years.
It is understood there are currently four council enforcement cases against planning irregularities at the site.
Historic Environment Division archaeologists from the Department for Communities, the statutory consultees, have since voiced opposition to the development, pointing out that the development is contrary to existing planning policies.
Despite the ongoing irregularities at the site, the turbine is now operational and an unauthorised broadband mast, which was refused retrospective planning permission by the council due to its impact on the setting of the monument in October, has still not been removed.
The Friends of Knock Iveagh have accused council of ‘project splitting’, something which they claim is incompatible with environmental regulations.
They say that key information about extensive earthing trenching and other developments at the site was missing from the original application.
They believe that an Environmental Impact Assessment should have been required for the whole development, particularly due to the cultural and archaeological importance of the hill.
Now that the turbine is operational, some local residents have also expressed concern about noise emissions.
The Friends say they have now been waiting six months for an explanation as to why the turbine application was ‘streamlined’, a process normally reserved for non-contentious developments such as garages.
A representative said: “The fact that the turbine is now up and running has no bearing on the council’s responsibilities, or on their ability to put things right.
“In our opinion the developer has shown little respect for due process, and our heritage is now being exploited with the profits funnelled into an offshore company.
We think it’s time the council did the right thing. Recent archaeological research into the area has revealed that Knock Iveagh may be even more significant than previously thought, with sources suggesting it may also be linked to St Patrick.
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