Northern Ireland news

1,000 homes in line for compensation after landmark pylon ruling in south Belfast

Solicitor John Gibbons
By Mairead Holland

AROUND 1,000 home owners who are inconvenienced by electricity wires running through their gardens could be entitled to compensation for the first time ever, a Belfast solicitor had said.

John Gibbons, of John F Gibbons & Co, was speaking after a successful landmark case last week in which an elderly couple was awarded £15,500 over problems associated with a pylon in their Four Winds garden.

Roy and Ivy McKibbin, who are in their eighties, won their case against NIE after a seven-year court battle.

They had argued that their enjoyment of their house and garden was impaired by starlings on the tower leaving droppings on the garden and car.

Mr Gibbons, who represented the couple, said the ruling by the Court of Appeal - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - also paved the way for claims by people who, although not having pylons on their properties, have high voltage lines running over them.

The solicitor said he had another three cases of people with pylons in their gardens, all in the Four Winds area, which he would be seeking to have relisted for court hearing again.

In all, he has a list of 1,000 householders, either with pylons or NIE lines running over their properties, who are interested in pursuing compensation claims.

"The McKibbins was the test case, and now we know the outcome of that, we can move ahead with the others," he said.

Mr Gibbons said that in England the National Grid had been paying out compensation for decades in such case but that in Northern Ireland NIE had resisted compensation payments.

And he said that, following last week's verdict, he would be contacting NIE about the first of these claims.

He explained: "In England, there is a sliding scale of what people can get, starting at one per cent of the value of their home, and rising depending on the number of lines and the severity of the problem.

"The birds are a major problem. People have to power hose their patios, their window sills, and their cars. They put washing out and have to do it all over again, so it does have a significant impact, even from the point of view of running up bigger electricity bills.

"And when there is a bit of wind, the lines 'sing' which can be a very strange noise."

He said the McKibbins, who had been living in their home since they bought it in 1965, were "delighted and relieved" at the verdict.

"Nobody imagined it would have taken this long. We filed the papers with the Land Tribunal in 2011 and in 2014 they awarded the McKibbbins £15,500.

"NIE appealed and we had been waiting two years for the Court of Appeal to issue its judgement."

The court backed an assessment that the property had diminished in value by 10 per cent due to the presence of the pylon.

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