Knock Iveagh: Work begins on turbine near Neolithic burial site

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

image captionThe view from Knock Iveagh Cairn near Banbridge

Work is under way to erect a controversial wind turbine near a protected Neolithic burial site in County Down.

But the temporary stop notice ran out at midnight on Monday.

On Thursday morning, sections of the turbine were moved into position at Knock Iveagh near Banbridge ahead of assembly. It is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council says it is still considering revocation of the turbine's planning permission.

It was granted in 2013.

The council did not take the original decision to grant planning permission.

That was taken by planners in the then Department of the Environment (DoE).

Planning powers have since passed to councils under the reorganisation of local government.

The Department for Communities has responsibility for monuments.

It said its Historic Environment Division was not consulted when planning permission was granted.

The department said it has provided specialist advice to the planning authority "on historic environment issues, including regarding the indisputable and significant impact on the setting of the scheduled monument".

image captionOn Thursday morning, sections of the turbine were moved into position at Knock Iveagh ahead of assembly

It has since emerged that archaeologists in the DoE's Historic Environment Division were not consulted about its proximity to the burial cairn which is a protected state monument.

They have since said that had they been asked they would have objected.

The council has been given legal advice that if it revokes planning permission it may have to compensate the developer for the costs of the project to date.

It is believed that could be up to £750,000 - a bill that would fall on ratepayers.

The council investigated alleged breaches of the planning permission for the turbine relating to the access road and associated electricity infrastructure.

They have been addressed by requiring the developer to make changes to bring them back in line with what was approved.

The wider issue of whether planning permission will be rescinded is still under consideration by the council.

It said there was as yet no time frame on when it would make that decision.

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