Northern Ireland

Man fined £50,000 for destroying historic lime kilns

The ancient structures in Co Antrim dated back to the 1800s.

The Moneybroom Lime Kilns before they were demolished
The Moneybroom Lime Kilns before they were demolished The Moneybroom Lime Kilns before they were demolished

A man has been fined £50,000 for demolishing a protected historical monument in Co Antrim.

Henry Price, 64, from Glenavy Road in Lisburn, was sentenced at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court for destroying lime kiln structures that had been in place since the 1800s.

A PSNI statement said: “On Friday April 16 2021, police were made aware of building works taking place in the Moneybroom Road area of Lisburn, where protected monuments were situated.

“Upon reviewing the building site, it became evident to officers that the landowner had levelled land without receiving any prior consent, destroying lime kiln structures that had been in position for many years.”

Price entered a guilty plea in December and was sentenced on Wednesday.

The PSNI statement added: “This case demonstrates the close working relationship between police and the Historic Environment Division in the Department for Communities, in an effort to protect our heritage and investigate any reports of criminality.”

Brian McKervey, acting director of the Historic Environment Division (HED), said: “We welcome the court’s recognition that our heritage is an important and finite resource and an appreciation that once gone, these sites are impossible to replace.

“Not only did Moneybroom lime kilns, which date back to the 1800s, provide a unique example of a time when our society was undergoing massive change, they were a reminder of many aspects of our shared heritage, including the industrialisation of our landscape and society.

Moneybroom, lime kilns: ANT 063-500, site visit 15/04/2021.
Moneybroom, lime kilns: ANT 063-500, site visit 15/04/2021. Moneybroom, lime kilns: ANT 063-500, site visit 15/04/2021. (Judy Hewitt)

“HED appreciates the pressures that scheduled monument owners can face and one of our primary aims is to support them and facilitate their needs, where possible.

“However, the department will also work with criminal justice partners to pursue prosecutions where warranted, in particular when historic monuments have been damaged or destroyed.”

A spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service said: “An investigation into the unauthorised works and complete destruction of lime kilns at Moneybroom resulted in a file being submitted to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

“The PPS carefully considered all the available evidence submitted in the investigation file and took a decision to prosecute one individual.

“The PPS will continue to work closely with the Department of Communities Historic Environment Division and other criminal justice partners, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, to prosecute the alleged damaging of an historic monument, where the test for prosecution is met.”

Lime burning for agricultural use was common on a small scale on farms throughout the 1700s and early 1800s.

From the mid-1800s onwards, the thousands of small single farm lime kilns were gradually replaced by far fewer numbers of larger, more efficient, industrial lime-burning sites.

The Moneybroom Lime Kilns were constructed some time between 1830-1900.