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Energy firm to fight notice over disputed wind turbine on site of Neolithic burial site at Knock Iveagh  

Credit:  Ciaran O'Neill | December 11 2022 | independent.ie ~~

Wind turbine on the historic Knock Iveagh site outside Rathfriland

A long-running dispute over the erection of a wind turbine at a historic site in Co Down has taken a new twist.

The turbine was erected on the top of Knock Iveagh near Rathfriland in 2017. Heritage campaigners were furious planning permission had been granted for the turbine on a 5,000-year-old Neolithic burial site which was also used for the coronation of early medieval kings.

It has now emerged the company which owns the turbine, Ayr Power Ltd, has been served with an enforcement notice by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (ABC) to remove some of the structures associated with the turbine. If the structures are removed, it is understood the turbine would be unable to continue operating.

However, the Sunday Independent has learned Ayr Power Ltd has lodged an appeal against the order with the Planning Appeals Commission.

Planning permission for the turbine was originally granted in 2013 by the Department of Environment (DoE) which was then in charge of planning decisions across Northern Ireland.

Heritage experts were not consulted about the turbine application and later said had they been they would have recommended refusal. The Historic Monuments Council, which is an advisory body to the Northern Ireland Executive, said the planning process around the erection of the turbine was “seriously flawed and inadequate on a number of grounds”.

Planning powers were transferred to the 11 new councils set up in 2015 as part of the Review of Public Administration.

Despite strong opposition from heritage organisations and a local campaign group, the turbine was erected at Knock Iveagh in 2017.

However, in 2020, ABC council decided to formally request that the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), which took over the functions of the DoE in 2016, revoke the planning permission and take down the turbine.

The council also wants the department to pay any compensation required to the turbine owner if it is removed.

However, it is understood that DfI argue that the responsibility for the matter, and any claims for compensation, rest with the council.

An ABC council spokesperson said the enforcement notice relating to an “unauthorised development” at Knock Iveagh was issued by the council on October 12 this year.

“The unauthorised development consists of a sub-station and concrete plinth. The notice has subsequently been appealed by the developer to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC). However, the council has yet to receive any information from the PAC regarding the appeal proceedings.”

​A spokesperson for Ayr Power Ltd confirmed they were appealing the enforcement notice but said it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

A spokesperson for the Friends of Knock Iveagh, a group which aims to protect the historic site, claimed the enforcement notice was in respect of just one aspect of the “unlawful”development.

“Knock Iveagh is the location of a protected Neolithic burial cairn which was later repurposed as part of an important royal inauguration complex.

“The original planning permission was granted following a flawed planning process during which government archaeologists were, inexplicably, not consulted.

“Planners therefore failed to ensure the appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment. Government archaeologists have now, correctly, refused to comment on this application as it seeks to regularise aspects of a development in breach of multiple statutory planning policies.

“Our group has been granted permission to take part in the planning appeal. Our goal remains the removal of this inappropriate and damaging development.”

Source:  Ciaran O'Neill | December 11 2022 | independent.ie

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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