Council confirm Knockmany Mound cordoned off

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Mid Ulster District Council has confirmed it has cordoned off a prominent prehistoric burial site near Augher, following complaints of damage to the area.

The matter was first raised at a meeting of Council’s environment committee by Councillor Sharon McAleer who claimed “40 bikers” were seen going over the top of Knockmany Hill and claimed they were destroying “the wildlife, nature and fauna along the way”.

These claims were then refuted by a local cycling group who said they were little more than “a ham-fisted publicity stunt which victimises bikers”.

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However, Council has now confirmed it has temporarily prohibited access to the top of the mound to allow the grass, which was damaged, to regrow and protect the area’s biodiversity.

Speaking at a meeting of Council’s environment committee, Councillor Sharon McAleer said the actions of these cyclists, who she claimed were not from the local area, was unacceptaible.

“Unfortunately at Queen Annya’s burial site, 40 bikers were counted going over the burial site which is just not acceptable,” she said.

“They have dug up all the ground and then proceeded to go down through the forest and destroy the wildlife, nature and fauna along the way.

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“These are not local bikers, they would not dream of going up that area and I am very concerned because the area is slowly being destroyed.”

Councillor Frances Burton said she was in agreement with Cllr McAleer telling the chamber, “it is a disgrace and ridiculous that this has happened”.

These claims were subsequently countered by a local mountain biking group who labelled them “ignorant and inflammatory”.

“Councillor Sharon McAleer has made an attempt to disparage mountain bikers with a misrepresentation of the facts,” claimed a spokesperson for the group.

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“In our view, the ignorant and inflammatory remarks made by the councillors are little more than a ham-fisted publicity stunt which victimise bikers, and only serve to exacerbate the situation rather than capitalise on what is an overwhelmingly positive story.

“I can advise that the environmental impact to the trails at Knockmany is so little that once spring kicks in, if the vegetation is not regularly maintained, nature will reclaim the trails literally within a matter of weeks.”

However, a spokesperson for Mid Ulster District Council has confirmed that as of March 18, the area has been cordoned off and will only reopen once the ground has recovered.

“Inspections of the area have been carried out,” a Council spokesperson confirmed.

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“The area around the mound at Knockmany has been cordoned off, and access to the top of the mound is temporarily prohibited.

“This is to allow the grasses which were damaged to re-establish and to further protect the biodiversity of the area.

“This will be continually assessed and the mound will be reopened when the ground has recovered.”

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