Plans for Villiers mast shot down by An Bord Pleanala

by Mary Earls

AN APPLICATION to erect a telecommunications mast on the roof of Villier’s Secondary School, which was turned down by Limerick City Council, has also been shot down by An Bord Pleanala.

The main reasons cited for refusing the mast were health risks and property devaluation.

Pat O’Donovan, PRO with Better Environmental and Safer Telecommunications (BEST) said that he was delighted the decision was upheld by a higher body and that "they are accepting that there’s a health risk involved”.

Stating that common sense has prevailed, he added that this "huge decision marks a change in thinking,” as regards planning for mobile phone masts.

Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd., had applied for permission to put a 5m white flagpole on the rooftop of the school with antennae last May.

However, concerned parents, school staff, nearby residents and councillors, were outraged over the application.

Mr O’Donovan had earlier complimented the Planning Department of Limerick City Council for issuing "one of the most detailed condemnations of a mast planning application that I have come across in a long while”.

A spokesperson from the planning department at City Hall explained that the application was turned down because the proposed mast, being on a school site and near housing, would "detract from the amenities of the area” and "depreciate the value of adjacent residential properties”.

City planners also believed the development would set "an undesirable precedent for similar development in Limerick city.

Mr O’Donovan commented: "This was an outrageous proposal from day one. And to have the school’s board of management pushing for it just made it worse. It has been well documented that phone masts shouldn’t be placed near schools especially as the radiation can be very harmful for growing children. But this mast was to be placed in a densely populated urban area, so it would have affected the students as well as the wider community. 3G masts which are used for picture phones, have more powerful emissions.

"BEST has learned that there are much higher instances of cancer and people suffering from other diseases when they live near a mast. And many people living in close proximity to a mast have talked about the ‘constant headaches, fatigue, nausea and a sensation of burning in their heads’. Before phone masts would just be planted down without question. But now the planners are inspecting every single aspect of a planning application much more seriously”.

Last year, there was widespread condemnation that the Board of management at the school issued a letter that they "consented to this planning application based on research and subject to all current Health and Safety guidelines”.

And there were also reports that staff, parents and students at Villier’s School, were reluctant to complain about the proposed 3G Mast, because of alleged intimidation.

A student at Villier’s secondary school had told the Limerick Post that many parents were considering sending solicitors letters to management holding them directly responsible for any adverse health effects they may suffer from the planned installation of the 3G mast on the school’s roof. It is understood parents had also considered taking their children out of the fee-paying school.

Informant: Agnes Ingvarsdottir


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