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South Armagh man fined over “substantial damage” in protected Ring of Gullion

A south Armagh man has been fined £3,400 after “substantial damage” was caused within an area of special scientific interest and a conservation area.

Derek Johnston, of Carrickastricken Road, Forkhill, came before Newry Magistrates’ Court today (Monday) for breaches of Environment Order legislation.

On five occasions between October 5, 2012 and July 15, 2014, Northern Ireland Environment Agency officers investigated a site owned by Derek Johnston within the Slieve Gullion area of special scientific interest (ASSI) and Slieve Gullion special area of conservation (SAC).

On each occasion unauthorised works were observed which resulted in substantial damage to protected habitat.

The court heard burning, spraying and mechanical removal of vegetation caused the destruction of 12.5 hectares of priority ‘Dry Heath’ habitat on land owned by the defendant.

The loss of habitat occurred within a scenic landscape of the Ring of Gullion and has been described as highly prevalent on this scenic drive.

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