Foxford fights 30-metre phone mast

by Fiona McGarry

More than 50 residents of Foxford are fighting a bid by a mobile phone company to build a 30-metre mast in the Clossaghroe area.

This is the second attempt by O2 to erect the mast. The first application, made in November, was ruled invalid because planners found the site notice was “very high up on a telephone pole” and not readable from the public road. Planners also told the company the mast seemed to go against the County Development Plan.

As with O2’s initial application, its second approach to planners has generated huge local resistance. Fifty-two people calling themselves “the residents of Clossaghroe and the surrounding townlands” have lodged another detailed objection against the mast.

The letter, which is signed by John Sheridan and 52 others, objects to the mast, saying it would be “visually obtrusive in every way in a beautiful rural setting and not fitting with the surrounding area in any way”. The objection also notes that there several homes and young families in the area, and points out that Department of the Environment guidelines advise against masts within 500 metres of residences.

The presence of a number of other telecommunications masts in the same area outside Foxford is also noted by objectors, who ask which will be the next company seeking to erect a mast in their area. “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,” the objectors have told planners.

Objectors have also drawn attention to a letter sent by Mayo County Council to O2 on foot of its first application for the 30-metre mast. While planners advised the company that their application seemed to contravene the County Development Plan, and said that a revised plan should be submitted; objectors claim the current project is identical to the first one.

Additional concerns relate to the proximity of the mast site to the scenic Foxford Way, a popular walking trail that passes through Clossaghroe. “We ask you what kind of message would be given to the visiting tourists that use this walk. If they approach Clossaghroe, they are to be faced with the sight of a fenced compound and a 30-metre tower in a beautiful scenic area. The message would not be a positive one. Especially at a time when the Government is investing approximately €20 million in attracting hill-walkers to this country,” the objection says.

The deadline for public submissions on the mast has now closed and planners are expected to make a decision or seek further information on the project by April 15.

© Mayo Advertiser Ltd,2007


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