Tuesday 23 January 2018

Council says no to more tele masts

By Maria Pepper

The existing masts on Forth Mountain which the county council says companies must share.
The existing masts on Forth Mountain which the county council says companies must share.

Wexford County Council is allowing no further masts to spoil the landscape on scenic Forth Mountain and has told telecommunications companies that they must share existing structures.

However, at least two companies who were refused planning permission by the Council to erect new masts, have lodged appeals with An Bord Pleanala which is considering the issue.

The Wexford-based Broadband firm Skytel Networks Ltd. is the latest applicant to have been turned down. Its plans for a 24.4 metre high lattice support telecommunications mast with associated equipment at Forth Commons, Rathaspeck, were rejected by the local authority, despite the approval of an area engineer.

Senior executive planner James Lavin said the development would seriously injure the visual amenity of the area, given the existing number of telecommunications towers, masts, fencing and ancillary structures in the location.

Mr. Lavin said he is of the opinion that there is already a sufficient number masts of with spare capacity on Forth Mountain to serve the needs of the telecommunications sector.

The Wexford County Development Plan encourages the sharing of facilities on existing masts rather than a proliferation of numerous structures erected by individual operators, especially in Landscapes of Greater Sensitivity which is the category that Forth Mountain falls into.

Mr. Lavin said he was not satisfied that Skytel had satisfactorily demonstrated it would not be possible to share with an existing structure, giving as the sole reason that it would not be financially viable.

He said the mast would detract from a designated 'Landscape of Greater Sensitivity' and damage or threaten the integrity of the adjacent proposed Natural Heritage Area which is a site of national importance.

Skytel which is a leading provider of fixed wireless, fibre-powered broadband, has appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala which is due to give a ruling by December 19 next.

The Council notified a number of third parties about the application including the local authority Biodiversity Officer who recommended that permission be refused on the grounds that the site is adjacent to Carrigadee Rocks in a proposed Natural Heritage Area which is of ecological interest as it represents the most south-easterly heathland in Ireland.

TowerCom Ltd of Dundrum, Dublin advised the planning department that there is ample space for accommodating additional antennae on existing masts and said Government guidelines are in favour of co-locating facilities.

Hibernian Cellular Networks Ltd of Ashford, County Wicklow asked the Council to refuse permission on the grounds that a similar application that it made recently was rejected and has also been referred to An Bord Pleanala.

Wexford People

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