Campaigners call on department to intervene as wind turbine goes active near Neolithic cairn in Co Down

The Knock Iveagh neolithic site near Rathfriland, Co Down
John Monaghan

CAMPAIGNERS have called for a government department to intervene to remove a wind turbine which has been built near a Neolithic cairn in Co Down.

It is understood that the wind turbine, at Knock Iveagh cairn near Rathfriland, went active last week.

Planning permission was originally granted by the former Department of the Environment (DOE) in 2013, but planning matters have since transferred to local councils.

In November, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said it would not be extending a 28-day stop notice, which had been enforced on work at the site.

The council introduced the notice as it investigated alleged breaches of planning controls for the turbine concerning the access road and electricity network, but later said work could proceed as the developer had been ordered to make amendments.

Campaigners say the cairn, a large stone mound covered by earth which would have been used as an ancient burial chamber, could be historically significant and have raised concerns that work could damage the 6,000 year-old site.

Almost £2,000 to date has been raised through crowdfunding for a legal challenge.

The Friends of Knock Iveagh, which opposes development near the cairn, said that it had been "frustrating and heartbreaking to look on" as the turbine went up.

"We feel we have no option now but to ask the Department of Infrastructure, the body who oversee planning and development in Northern Ireland, to intervene," the group said.

Opponents of the turbine have also received backing from a descendant of the Guinness founder Arthur Guinness.

Lord Iveagh, also known as Arthur Edward Rory Guinness, wrote a letter in December calling on the "local authority to urgently review the planning and development on this historic hill which is the acknowledged ancestral homeland of the Magennis chiefs and Viscounts of Iveagh".

Sinn Féin have previously called for the immediate halting of the project pending a full public inquiry.

The party said there were "flaws" in the original application process, with local residents and experts from the Historical Environment Division, the body within the Department for Communities (DfC) that protects the north's heritage, not consulted.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said: "The department has received correspondence on this case and will respond in due course. The planning authority in relation to this issue is Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council."

A council spokesman said that a request to revoke planning permission for the turbine is "still under consideration".

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