Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is “currently reviewing” the Department of Infrastructure’s correspondence with regards to a wind turbine built on an ancient burial ground.
In December, Council asked DfI to use its powers of enforcement to order the removal of a turbine at Knock Iveagh near Katesbridge.
However, following confirmation from DfI that it would not do what Council has requested, a spokesperson confirmed Council is currently assessing the impact of this decision.
“Council is aware of the matter and is currently reviewing the correspondence that has been issued by the Department,” said the spokesperson.
The turbine was built in 2017, four years after the former Department of the Environment granted planning permission, despite the turbine being located beside a 5,000 year old neolithic burial site which is a scheduled historical monument.
The former Department failed to consult archaeological experts about the application for the turbine.
At the time of the application, planning was the responsibility of the former Department but Council inherited the responsibility for the application when planning powers were transferred to local government.
There are fears Council could be liable for compensation to the owner of the turbine, which could end up costing local rate payers more than £1 million.
Having “spent considerable time and resource investigating this case” Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon has written to Council’s Chief Executive, Roger Wilson, to say Council has both the power and authority to do what it is asking of the Department.
The letter also makes clear that should Council decide to proceed to discontinue the wind turbine, liability will rest with the Council.
“I can see no grounds or basis for which my Department would use its powers of enforcement or discontinuance for this case,” reads the Minister’s letter to Council’s Chief Executive.
“Therefore, I am unable to acceded to your request to do so.
“In relation to the issue of compensation, should the council decide to proceed to discontinue this wind turbine development, liability rests with the Council.
“As indicated in previous correspondence, my Department is unable to consider the issue of potential compensation in the absence of detail regarding the Council’s decision and how it was reached.”
Speaking about this response at January’s meeting of Council’s planning committee, where it was listed for noting, Councillor Sam Nicholson said he was disappointed with DfI’s decision.
“I am disappointed with this response,” said Councillor Nicholson. “But let’s wait and see what the legal team says.”