The Alliance Party’s Infrastructure spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has raised questions over how a controversial wind turbine development was given the go-ahead, despite being located at the ancient historical site of Knock Iveagh.
The MLA for Strangford has formally written to the Department for Infrastructure asking for clarity around the legal situation regarding Knock Iveagh Cairn and what action the Department is taken to protect the integrity of the historical asset.
Kellie Armstrong MLA said: “I’ve asked the Department for produce any legal opinion it has received in relation to this case, and whether they will formally advise ABC Council to take direct action to protect Knock Iveagh Cairn.
“Despite the historical monuments division within the Department of Communities being opposed to the development, this will not be enough to stop it going forward. They alone do not have the power in legislation to stop its erection, a decision which could only be taken by the Department for Infrastructure, in conjunction with Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.”
South Down Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown added: Currently it is my understanding that it would be entirely within the power of the Council to revoke the planning permission, which they inherited upon the devolution of planning powers in 2014.
“I understand that this may have a financial cost to the Council if the applicant decided to pursue the costs of a previously granted permission being revoked, however I would challenge ABC Council and its elected representatives to put a financial value on the integrity of an important ancient site like Knock Iveagh.
It is clear that the original planning permission granted by DOE was flawed, given that it did not consult with statutory partners, specifically the Historic Monuments Division. I would therefore suggest that the Council seeks remuneration for any costs of doing this from the Department of Infrastructure (now responsible for overseeing planning in Local Government), rather than passing the cost directly to ABC Council ratepayers.
“It is my opinion that the Council suggesting that the public come up with the money for a legal challenge is a complete dereliction of duty, and ultimately it will be the elected Councillors on ABC Council who have the power to take action. I hope they will do the right thing and move to protect Knock Iveagh.”