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We all want to believe that the places and heritage we love will be protected by somebody else for our children to enjoy. Some really important places in the UK benefit from protection by law and are supposed to be kept safe by our government bodies for the benefit of everyone. One such place is the ancient Neolithic burial site on the hill at Knock Iveagh. Although the burial site (cairn) is older than the pyramids and should be treated as a gem in the crown of beautiful Co Down, right now unfortunately it looks like somebody has dropped the ball because it is under terrible threat. Our public bodies have the power to save the hill and it is up to us to make sure they do so. That is why we are asking for your contribution to this important fight. Legal advice costs money, but this is a fight we can and must win.
Knock Iveagh is a hill outside Rathfriland in Co Down which is the setting for a Neolithic Round Cairn (ritual and burial place) dating back to beyond 3000BC.
The cairn measures 100ft in diameter and is 10ft tall. It is visible as a lump on the skyline of the hilltop from miles away. The cairn was located in this position in order that it be the most dominant feature of the hillside. As a likely place of inauguration the surrounding 360 degree views of the landscape would also have been key.
Recently, a tall broadband mast was erected beside the cairn without planning permission. Even worse, we understand that planning permission was granted in 2013 for a WIND TURBINE of up to 41 meters high on the site. That turbine could be erected at any moment and it is vital that we take urgent action to protect the site. Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council is also currently considering an application for retrospective permission for the broadband mast.
Since discovering these issues last month, the Friends of Knock Iveagh have been working with the Annaclone Historical Society to try to protect the hill. Expressions of support have been received from all sides of the political spectrum and a petition calling for the site to be protected currently has over 1400 signatures here https://www.change.org/p/save-knock-iveagh
It is our understanding that Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council can revoke permission for the turbine at ANY TIME but as yet has chosen not to do so, despite being contacted on numerous occasions by the Friends of Knock Iveagh.
This crowdfunding website has been set up to help raise funds to pay for legal costs to protect this important site and we are asking for your support. More information about the background to this sorry story and our serious concerns about the processes which have been followed by the public bodies which have the duty and responsibility to protect this site are given below.
We understand that the broadband mast has been erected without any planning permission, and based on what we know right now, although planning permission exists for the building of a wind turbine, this permission appears to have been granted following a planning process which gives us serious cause for concern. Some of the concerns we have about the planning process for the turbine include that:-
1/ It appears that the application for a wind turbine was STREAMLINED. The Friends of Knock Iveagh cannot understand how a site beside a scheduled historic monument could ever have been considered an appropriate site for a streamlined application.
2/ Both HED and Armagh banbridge and Craigavon Council have confirmed to the Friends that there was no consultation with Historic Environment Department prior to permission being granted. Since the turbine proposes is beside a scheduled site it is our understanding that the HED should have been consulted.
3/ Why does a 2013 Professional Planning Report in relation to the turbine note that “There are no built heritage interests at this site” when there is a protected Scheduled monument on the hill?
4/ Knock Iveagh is singled out and mentioned numerous times as being a location unsuitable for wind development. Planningni guidance on wind farms (which mentions KnockIveagh 11 times) states that ‘Particular care should be taken to avoid adverse impacts on areas with memorable long distance views to the Mournes and Sperrins eg Knockiveagh summit.'
5/ Publicly available information from the NI Planning Portal also suggests that the nearest neighbours were unaware of plans for a wind turbine until very recently. The Friends of Knock Iveagh believe that until very recently the general public were entirely unaware of the plans for a turbine this scheduled protected site. Given the enormous upset and community engagement since the plans were uncovered it is very clear that had reasonable and proper consultation taken place at the time, the turbine application would have been robustly opposed.
If allowed to proceed, these developments will utterly destroy the setting and environment of this magical historical place. We cannot let our shared heritage be destroyed and we must ensure that the public bodies with the duty to protect it step up to the mark and do their jobs. If mistakes have been made, it is their job to put things right and we want to make sure they do.
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