A south Belfast couple awarded more than £15,000 compensation after they complained that a pylon in their garden has diminished the value of their house say they’re glad the legal battle is finally over.
Last month the Court of Appeal upheld a £15,500 compensation award to Roy and Ivy McKibbin for NIE Networks’ alleged refusal to remove the tower from the side of their home in the Four Winds area, bringing an end to a seven-year legal wrangle.
Judges backed an assessment that the property had diminished in value by 10% due to the presence of what the couple described as “a monstrosity”.
Speaking through their solicitor, John Gibbons, Mr and Mrs McKibbin said it had been “a long battle”, adding that they are “glad it’s over at last.”
Making the ruling last week, Lord Justice Sir Reg Weir set out how the couple had requested the removal of NIE equipment after the last of their voluntary agreements ended in 2009.
Mr and Mrs McKibbin stated that their enjoyment of their house and garden was impaired by birds on the tower leaving droppings on the garden and car beneath.
Reference was made to the wires making a “singing” noise in some weather conditions, along with difficulties in maintaining their garden due to the pylon’s legs.
“They describe the tower in their garden as ‘a monstrosity’, a description which from the photographs does not seem an exaggeration,” Lord Justice Weir said.
NIE Networks had appealed an earlier Lands Tribunal decision that £15,500 compensation should be paid to the McKibbins to reflect the potential drop in the worth of their property.
But based on an examination of the evidence and photographs, Lord Justice Weir held that it was fully entitled to assess the diminution in value at 10%.
“Had it to make its own lay assessment, (the court) would have arrived at a figure certainly no less than that,” he said.
The McKibbins were also awarded all their legal costs.
Welcoming the Court of Appeal’s ruling, Mr Gibbons predicted that the test case verdict could open the floodgates to a huge number of similar claims.
“This case now opens the way for all similarly affected homeowners, whose use and enjoyment of their property is diminished by power lines or NIE equipment, to seek suitable compensation,” he said.
“There are already many claims lodged with the Lands Tribunal that will now have to be dealt with and we anticipate many hundreds of new claimants will now come forward.”
He added: “As the negative perception of electricity equipment very close to residential property continues to grow, these types of claims are bound to become more prevalent.
“They are common place in the rest of the UK, where power line companies have been compensating homeowners for decades.”