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More development ahead for ancient landmark?

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

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THE Knock Iveagh Cairn faces further threats to its future in the form of a wind turbine.
A communications mast was erected on the ancient site last week and it has come to light that planning permission exists for a wind turbine to the back of the hilltop site.
A planning application was approved in 2013 to allow a 41.5m wind turbine just below the summit of the site.
Knock Iveagh Cairn is a large mound covered by earth and would have been used as an ancient burial chamber. It is one of 1,900 monuments protected by legislation in Northern Ireland.
The site, which is privately owned, is believed to date from around 3000 BC. An archaeological dig at the site in 1954 uncovered the remains of a woman and a child by a team of archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast.
Concerns have been raised that the sensitive nature of the site may have been compromised by excavation and preparatory work on the site for the mast.
Residents noticed last Tuesday (5 September) that work had commenced on the hill with the mast appearing the next day.
Concerned that the ancient cairn may have been damaged, some local residents contacted local planning and environment authorities, politicians, legal advisors and archeological and historical experts.
A lobby group, The Friends of Knock Iveagh has been rallied in response to the mast on the hill and fears of further developments on the cairn site.
A petition has been circulating calling for the removal of the mast, the enforcement of legislation designed to protect scheduled ancient monuments and immediate action to be taken to protect and preserve the ancient hill.
Knock Iveagh Cairn is covered by the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995. It is an offence to carry out changes to scheduled monuments without consent. The maximum fine on conviction at the magistrates' court is 5,000.
A spokesman for The Friends of Knock Iveagh says they have been garnering support on Facebook and have been taking instruction on how to "save Knock Iveagh".
“Until Tuesday the hill had unparalleled and uninterrupted views South to Slieve Gullion and the 'Gap of the North', as well as to Slieve Donard and the Mournes, Slieve Croob in the Dromara Hills, the Sperrins, Lough Neagh, the Antrim plateau and even Slemish mountain to the North," the spokesman said.
“In spite of the fact that the significance of this hill is often overlooked, comments from local residents and politicians nonetheless reveal an enormous depth of feeling and strong connection to this special place, and an understandable outrage at the prospect of any damage to this site."
Knock Iveagh Action Group believes the situation at Knock Iveagh also calls into question wider planning issues relating to the protection and preservation of ancient landscapes throughout Northern Ireland.
“This is particularly significant in a province for which heritage is a unique selling point and tourist attraction.
“We would encourage anyone who wants to help to join us on Facebook, sign and share the petition and to contact your local elected representatives to express your concerns."
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council has opened an enforcement case against those responsible for the erection of a telecommunications mast on the Knock Iveagh hill outside Rathfriland.
The company says it will "co-operate fully" with this investigation.
"We are working closely with the Department for Communities, and the local Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council who are undertaking an investigation into the works on site at Knock Iveagh, and we will fully cooperate with this investigation," a spokesperson for Go Fibre Ltd said.
A petition entitled 'Save Knock Iveagh' currently has over 500 signatures and with 1,000 'supporters' on its Facebook group.
Representatives of the 'Save Knock Iveagh' campaign met with senior representatives from the Department of Communities, Historic Environment Department on Sunday (10 September) to discuss concerns in relation to the development of Knock Iveagh.
“The discussion was positive and we feel reassured that the situation is being taken extremely seriously," a spokesman said.

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