Ballygar residents vow to fight mast plans

By Mairead O’Shea

Pat Hannon, Chairman of the Ballygar residents group addresses a public meeting in the town where plans by O2 for the erection of a mast are being opposed. The residents of Cloonlyon and Ballygar have vowed to fight plans by O2 to erect a mobile phone mast in the area. Almost two hundred people turned out at a public meeting in Ballygar last Thursday night to voice their concerns over a proposal to erect a 36m mast in Cloonlyon village.

O2 Communications Ireland applied to Galway County Council on February 20th for planning permission to erect a 36m antennae at Cloonlyon, Ballygar.

Mr Pat Hannon, chairman of the local residents group, explained that people had serious concerns over possible health effects, the devaluation of property and the obtrusive nature of the proposed mast.

“We have serious concerns on the grounds of possible health risks to humans and livestock. We heard from a farmer from County Tipperary at the meeting who experienced such health effects. The proposed mast is also in an area of local scenic beauty as at is on a walkway in the woods, which is regularly used by the people of the area. At 130 feet we feel that the mast will be enormous and we also fear that it will devalue property in the area,” said Mr Hannon.

The chairman went on to point out that three mobile phone antennae were already located on a mast on Mount Mary, which was only 3.5km from Cloonlyon. “I can’t understand why O2 can’t co-locate with the existing mast on Mount Mary. It’s only 3.5km from Cloonlyon and it covers an area from Glenamaddy to Athleague,” said Mr Hannon.

TDs and local councillors offered their support to the residents in their fight against 02.

The speakers at the meeting included Mr Con Colbert, Secretary of the Irish Doctors Environmental Association.

Mr Colbert referred to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation on permissible levels of radiation as “thousands of times higher in Ireland and the UK than in the US and Australia”.

The local residents are this week preparing individual and group objections to the O2 proposal. They have a further two weeks to lodge an objection with Galway County Council. Mr Hannon pointed out that plans were also underway to hold a public protest on the issue outside the offices of Galway County Council in the coming weeks. He said that residents would fight the O2 proposal and if necessary appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala.

© Roscommon Herald, 2007.

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