Phone company renews bid for controversial Foxford mast

by Fiona McGarry

A mobile phone company has made a fresh bid to secure planning permission for a controversial mast development outside the town of Foxford.

Towards the end of last year, O2 applied to erect a 30 metre mast at Clossaghroe outside Foxford, generating strong local opposition. That application was judged to be invalid by Mayo County Council, because of problems with the position of the site notice. However, O2 has now lodged a fresh bid for permission for the mast at the same location.

The first application for the mast was made in November of last year, but after a site inspection County planners noted that the site notice was placed “very high up on a telephone poll” and was not legible from the public road. In its letter to O2, telling them the application was invalid, the council also attached an advice note. It pointed out that the mast seemed to go against the County Development Plan, which says that masts should be located at a minimum distance of 500 metres from rural homes. The Council also told the company that forestry plantation around a mast was a requirement, so that it could be screened from view.

While the first application was rejected as invalid, it also generated objections on a number of grounds from residents of Clossaghroe. A petition with 52 signatures calling for the mast to be refused was submitted to the county council. In a letter to planners, signed on behalf of “the residents of Clossaghroe and the surrounding areas”, a number of concerns about the mast were outlined. Local people said there were already three existing masts close to the proposed site, and questioned the reason for a fourth. They also described the site as “a beautiful rural setting”, with little screening from trees. It was noted that the Foxford Way, a popular walking trail passes in front of the proposed site, and concerns were expressed about the impact on this tourist attraction. The letter also said: “It is appalling to have to accept such decisions against our will, when there are many local families having planning permission difficulties in this area.”

At the end of last month (February), the phone company lodged a fresh application for the same location. This is currently being assessed by planners, and by April 15, planners must make a decision or request Further Information on the proposed O2 mast. The deadline for submissions from the public on the proposed mast is March 25.

© Mayo Advertiser Ltd,2007


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