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Knock Iveagh: Council takes legal action over wind turbine

A council is taking legal action against a Stormont department for refusing to order the removal of a wind turbine beside an historic monument.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council has lodged papers in the High Court citing the Infrastructure Department.

In November it asked Infrastructure to use its powers to force the removal of the controversial turbine.

The turbine is beside a 5,000 year-old Neolithic burial site which is a scheduled historic monument.

The council said the turbine was having an “adverse environmental impact on the integrity of the setting of the scheduled monument”.

The department said planning powers were the responsibility of councils and refused to intervene.

The two parties are in dispute over which is responsible for dealing with the turbine at Knock Iveagh near Rathfriland, County Down.

The original decision to approve planning was made when the powers rested with central government.

Heritage experts were not consulted and later said had they been they would have recommended refusal.

Planning responsibilities transferred to councils following local government reform, leaving Armagh City, Banbridge, Craigavon Borough Council with the problem.

At the heart of the dispute is who would pay compensation to the turbine owner if planning were revoked and the turbine taken down.

It is estimated it could run to well over a million pounds.

While legal papers have been lodged, the council and the department are still in discussions and it is hoped a compromise can be reached.

A group campaigning for the removal of the turbine welcomed the latest move.

Friends of Knock Iveagh said it hoped “genuine and frank” discussions between the council and the department could resolve the issue quickly without additional cost to ratepayers or the public purse.