Mast campaign bombshell as planners give go-ahead

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

By: Alan Healy

DESPITE ministerial intervention and a prolonged campaign by a close-knit community, a controversial mobile phone mast planned for Glenbeigh has been given the go ahead by An Bord Pleanála.

Kerry County Council had originally refused permission for the mast because it was to be sited less than one kilometre from residences and from Curaheen National School.

However Vodafone appealed that decision to the planning board which has now overturned the council’s decision. The news will come as a major disappointment for local residents who had mounted a vigorous campaign of opposition to masts in their area.

An Bord Pleanála has overturned a number of rulings on mobile phone masts made by Kerry County Council as the phone companies have argued that the council’s one kilometre ruling is unworkable as it would mean masts could only be located in remote areas where there is no demand for a phone network.

The planning board found that the council’s decision was at odds with the National Development Plan which calls for a quality mobile phone network throughout the country.

The mast is to be located 500 metres south-west of the Curraheen Bridge, off the N70 Ring of Kerry road. The planning application sought approval for the erection of an 18-metre wooden pole with three antennae and two dishes plus an equipment cabinet. Two local residents as well as An Taisce had submitted objections to the plan.

They claimed the mast would ruin the scenery along the Ring of Kerry, that it would devalue property, that it was too close to the school and residences and that locals had no problems with the current Vodafone network in the area.

Minister John O’Donoghue, who was extensively lobbied by locals on the issue, also made a submission on the application saying there was 100 per cent local opposition to the plan and he was anxious to know if the board would be taking the County Development Plan on board. However planning inspector Annette Yates, who examined the Glenbeigh case, recommended that the board give permission for the development saying she felt that Vodafone’s need for the service outweighs the potential loss of amenity in the area.

“I do not see how it would be possible to have a modern telecommunications system without having masts within 1km of places of employment or residency,” she said.

“There can be very few places in all of Ireland where there is not a house or place of employment within 1km,” she said.

An Bord Pleanála met on July 26 and members agreed with the inspector’s recommendation and granted permission for the mast. The decision comes despite a delegation of concerned Glenbeigh locals making a presentation to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications on May 31.

© The Kingdom, 2006.


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