Plans for phone masts in Skreen and Riverstown rejected after objections
TWO telecommunications masts in different parts of the county, which were objected to by a large number of local residents, have been refused planning permission by Sligo County Council and for two different reasons.
Both planning applications were by telecommunications company Cignal Infrastructure Ltd.
In one case they sought permission to construct a 24m high monopole telecommunications mast, carrying antenna and dishes with associated ground cabinets at Doonflin Upper, Skreen.
And in the other they applied for permission for a 39m high multi-user lattice tower communications structure, carrying antenna and dishes at Carrownagark, Riverstown.
These would have been part of the company’s existing national portfolio of managing 300 former Coillte sites, in addition to over 250 new sites and they plan to add new developments to “support the existing requirements of the telecommunicatins industry” and to “facilitate the provision of boardband in current ‘black spot’ areas”.
In both cases there was significant local opposition, with a total of 35 submissions from local residents in Riverstown and 24 submissions (including one signed by 93 people) objecting to the Skreen mast.
In relation to the Skreen mast, Cignal said that the mast “has been designed to address a coverage blackspot for this area but also to meet future services delivery as customer requirements of the network increase”.
They said that at present the Skreen area and its immediate environs “is currently experiencing deficiencies in 3G and 4G coverage” and they say that “more recently there has been a steep increase in the use of mobile wireless networks and electronic communications services in general as a result of people working from home in recent months”.
However, many local residents have come out strongly against what they describe as “a 9 storey mast” at the location.
One said that the location of the mast “will have the maximum possible negative impact on residential amenity”. “The backdrop of the sea and mountains limit the capacity of the landscape to absorb this overly dominant development. The proposed development is surrounded by 11 archaeological monuments and it is within close proximity to Knockalongy corrie and cliffs, Aughris, Dunmoran strand etc. which attracts tourists and cyclists to the area therefore it will also have a negative impact on tourism in Sligo.”
They also felt it was inappropriate to locate it directly across from the “award-winning Mud and Wood House”.
Those were also some of the concerns expressed by many others in the objections submitted.
Other issues raised were regarding potential negative impact on the value of propertries, possible “radiation damage” caused by this mast, the adverse affect on a bat colony and corncrake nesting and a potential traffic hazard at the site entrance. Submissions were lodged by Nicholas Prins, Padraig Healy, Anita Mulligan, Noel and Eileen Healy, Joseph Burns, Pauline Burns, Anne Scott, Anita Mulligan, Gabrielle Hoban, Francis Hoban, Trevor and Noeleen O’Connell, Colm and Claire Scott, Margaret McDonnell, Brian McDonnell, Constance Scanlon, Clare McGrath, Evelyn and Kenneth Higgins, David Keane, James Fraher, Una Sugrue, Michael and Jackie Donlon, Helen and Dean Connaughton, Colin Ritchie, Feile Butler and Doonflin-Grangebeg Community Group (signed by 93 people, many of whom also sent individual letters).
The council planner Mihaela Davidescu considered that the technical justification for the mast was “largely in accordance with national and regional planning guidance”.
The only grounds on which she agreed withe objectors was in relation to the visual impact.
She considered that the structure would have a negative impact on the landscape and on the protected views of the Ox Mountains, as seen from the scenic route N59 in the townland of Doonflin and adjoining areas. RIVERSTOWN STRUCTURE
In the case of the 39m high multi-user lattice tower structure, at Carrownagark, Riverstown, on a site 2.6kms south west of Riverstown village and accessed via side road off the new N4 road, Cignal described the site as a “broadband black spot”.
They said the new mast would bring “significant improvement in voice and broadband services to the area, particularly targeting the upgraded section of the N4 road which is under construction” and for the residential areas around it.
There were 35 submissions from local residents objecting to it and a representation from local councillor Martin Baker.
In his representation Cllr Baker said he wanted to inform the planning authority of the concerns expressed in the community in relation to the visual impact on a natural landscape, the lack of prior consultation with the community and the close proximity to the new N4 road.
The other submissions were from Joan and Michael Heffernan, Damien Kelly, Patricia McLoughlin, Leonora Neary, Rory Willis, Frank Meehan, Thomas Cawley, Andrew and Kay Hannon, Brett and Mary Bartley, Fergus and Noreen McDermott, Simon and Sarah Tuohy, Mary P McDermott, Padraig Og Gilligan, Anthony and Paul Willis, Marie O’Grady, Catriona Feeney, Andrea Hannon, Elaine and Tom Leydon, Hugh, Loretta and Kelly Walsh, Michael and Olive Tonry, Claire Connolly and Michael Hannon, Elaine McHugh, Etain Watson, Paula Willis and others, Liam and Ceara Galvin, Padraig Gethin, Margaret Tonry, Mary and Michael Lyons, Michael and Patricia Flynn, Patricia and Peter Evans,
Elaine McHugh, Alec and Betty Taylor. There were a wide range of concerns raised in the objections.
These included health risks, environmental risks, climate affects, decrease in property value, noise pollution, the visual impact and that it was not in keeping with the landscape, anxiety and stress amongst the community, that it would be distraction to motorists on the new N4, concerns regarding the safety of children and disruption of wildlife in their natural habitat. Documentation on behalf of Cignal indicated that the site was selected after the “identification and prioritisation of black spots, targeting areas along the new upgraded section of the N4, along with the areas around Carrownagark, Drumfin and towards Riverstown”. They considered the visual impact would be “moderate negative”.
On a visit to the site the council planner Stephen Regan noted that there are existing pylons (carrying power lines) 30m in height and given this and the positioning of the structure in relation to the new N4 road the mast would “not have a negative visual impact”.
The planner said the nearest houses were around 200m away on the opposite side of the the New N4 dual carriageway and so felt that the mast would “not have a negative impact on the residntial amenities of the area”.
The planner pointed out that health and safety concerns for humans or animals were not a matter for the planning process but for the telecommunications regulator (ComReg).
In relation to concerns about property values, the planner stated that no financial evidence had been submitted to support the contention that the development would devalue property in the vicinity.
But the planner stated that while the development was “generally compliant with national planning guidance” in relation to tel eco mun ni cast ions structures, it was not in accordance with policy in relation to control of development on or near national roads.
There had been a submission from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (the national authority responsible for all national roads) on this point.
The planner recommended refusing planning permissin because the site was located within the N4 Castlebaldwin to Collooney road construction project and the proposal was considered premature pending the completion of this project.