The ABC Council could face a compensation bill of well over £1m, after the Department of Infrastructure said it would not oversee – and pay for – the removal of a wind turbine at the ancient Knock Iveagh site, near Rathfriland.
The Department for Infrastructure said it would not pick up the cost of fixing a procedural planning mistake for which the now-defunct Department of the Environment is responsible.
The hill at Knock Iveagh, which is home to a stone-age burial cairn, was an inauguration site for Irish kings and is a protected monument.
A planning mistake meant archaeological experts were not consulted about the turbine application before approval was given.
They later said that had they been, they would have recommended refusal.
The mistake was made at a time when planning was the responsibility of the former Department of the Environment and before the powers were transferred to local councils.
The ABC Council inherited the problem and has struggled for years to deal with it.
Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon has ruled, however, that the local authority has both the responsibility and the power to act.
“Having spent some considerable time and resource investigating and assessing this case over a period of three years, the [ABC] Council, as the local planning authority for the area, is both best placed to make this decision and is the authority with responsibility to do so,” she said.
The ‘Friends of Knock Iveagh’ group, which has campaigned for the removal of the turbine, described the outcome as “pathetic”.
The group said: “We suggest they go into a room together, close the door and not come out until they have a solution that rights the wrongs at Knock Iveagh.”
The ABC Council is remaining tight-lipped on the contentious matter, with a council spokesperson simply stating: “Council is aware of the matter and is currently reviewing the correspondence that has been issued by the Department.”
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