A potential breakthrough in a long-running right of way dispute involving Northern Ireland's richest man is set to be considered within weeks, the High Court heard today.
Newry and Mourne District Council has been locked in a legal battle with Lord Ballyedmond over access to a stretch of Co Down beach.
But a judge has now been told that a proposed resolution is due to go before a council meeting within weeks.
Industrialist Dr Edward Haughey, or Lord Ballyedmond, is head of Newry-based veterinary pharmaceuticals company Norbrook Laboratories.
He has already secured an order to stop trespassing on his land.
The injunction prevents access to a laneway on his estate pending a final ruling on the land which leads to the foreshore near Killowen.
It was granted after concerns were raised about any alleged trespassers coming close to sensitive research facilities.
In court today barrister Paul McLaughlin, for the council, confirmed negotiations have continued in an attempt to reach agreement over a possible re-routing or alteration.
He revealed that a proposal, understood to have been made on a without prejudice basis, was now on the table.
"The instructions I have are that in the next couple of weeks it is likely to be considered by the council," Mr McLaughlin said.
According to Lord Ballyedmond's barrister Adrian Colmer matters were at an advanced stage.
"It's getting into some interesting detail about height and wave action," he added.
But even if the two sides do reach agreement, environmental authorities will also have to give their approval.
Should attempts to reach a resolution fail, a contested hearing could last for nearly two weeks.
However, Mr Justice Deeny declined to fix a fall-back trial date.
He said: "People have spent nearly a year working on this proposal.
"It's obviously a practical solution to a matter which addresses competing concerns and I don't think it's responsible of me to tie up eight days of the court's time next year just for that possibility.
"There's a point for people to get on with it. They can approve the scheme subject to their engineer approving any details that are in dispute, but I think an element of common sense is required."
The case was listed for a further review in June.