Northern Ireland

Man fined for destroying protected land at Slieve Gullion

Slieve Gullion
Image caption Slieve Gullion is a mountain set within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in County Armagh

A man has been fined for destroying 30 acres of priority habitat within an environmentally protected zone at Slieve Gullion, County Armagh.

Derek Johnston, of Carrickasticken Road, Forkhill, was fined £3,400.

Inspectors from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency visited a site owned by him five times between October 2012 and July 2014.

They saw areas being burned, sprayed and vegetation being removed with machinery.

This took place within the Slieve Gullion Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the Slieve Gullion Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

In total, 30 acres of priority dry heath habitat was destroyed.

Mr Johnston was fined for five breaches of the Environment Order.

It is an offence to carry out such works in a protected area without notification or permission.

Slieve Gullion is one of the largest expanses of European dry heath in Northern Ireland.

An ASSI is a national designation of an area of special significance. An SAC is a European designation.