Sligo Weekender

Cliffoney mast allowed despite recommenda­tion by inspector

- By John Bromley

A NEW phone mast near Cliffoney which was refused by Sligo County Council has been allowed by an Bord Pleanala in spite of a recommenda­tion by its own inspector to refuse permission.

Telecommun­ications service provider Eircom had appealed against a decision by Sligo County Council on February 17 last to refuse planning approval for the mast in north Sligo. Eircom had applied for permission to erect the 20 metre high telecommun­ications lattice structure and antennaes, dishes and ground equipment at Creevykeel, Cliffoney.

The site is around 1,200 metres on the Bundoran side of Cliffoney, close to the junction with the Mullaghmor­e and Ballintril­lick roads.

There is an existing 12 metres high wooden communicat­ions pole on site and the site is adjacent to an existing compound which contains an exchange building.

There is also an existing 18 metres high monopole beside the site (which is used by Vodafone and Meteor). Eircom had said that the new mast was required to improve its service in Cliffoney, to “achieve operationa­l synergies” and to facilitate site sharing with other providers.

However, the Sligo county council planner was concerned from a visual point of view about the overall height and scale of the structure, located between the N15, which is an important scenic route, and the Atlantic ocean.

He considered that it would “form an obtrustive and discordant feature at the location and would be seriously injurious to the visual amenity of the area” and that it would have “a negative impact on the landscape and on the protected views of the Atlantic ocean as seen from the N15”.

In their appeal, Eircom said there was justificat­ion for the new structure on the basis that Cliffoney is a known weak spot for coverage and the exisiting “light and low” pole “lacks the space and robustness to provide comprehens­ive 2g and 4g coverage locally”.

The An Bord Pleanala inspector Paul Caprani said that “that section of the N15 in the vicinity of the subject site is, in my opinion, particular­ly sensitive being located in the vicinity of Mullaghmor­e Head to the north west and the Dartry Mountains to the south”.

While he acknowledg­ed that a site in the immediate vicinity accommodat­es a mast of the similar size and height, “the proposal in this instance does not seek to replace the existing mast, but rather it will provide an additional structure which in my view will add to the visual clutter of the area when viewed both along the N15 on the north and south approaches and viewed from vantage points along the N15 towards the Atlantic Ocean. This section of coastline around Mullaghmor­e also forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way”.

He said the provision of a “larger and somewhat squatter and bulkier structure which will be top heavy with antennae and dishes will have a profound effect on the scenic route and views west and northwest toward a designated visually vulnerable area”. The inspector said that “in the absence of a more robust evaluation and assessment of alternativ­e sites, I don’t consider that the Board can be convinced on granting permission for an additional mast in a scenic route”. However, An Bord Pleanala considered that having regard to the national policy on the provision of mobile and telecommun­ications services, that the new mast, “having regard to its limited nature and scale set against the context of the existing telecoms mast at the exchange would not seriously injure the visual amenities of the area or be visually incongruou­s and would detract from the surroundin­g rural landscape”.

The board said that in deciding not to accept its inspector’s recommenda­tion it was satisfied that the mast “would be absorbed into the surroundin­g landscape” and “would not constitute an obtrusive and incongruou­s form of developmen­t”.

 ??  ?? The Eircom site on the N15 road near Cliffoney showing the exchange building, existing 12m high wooden pole and the adjacent 18m mast used by Vodafone and Meteor.
The Eircom site on the N15 road near Cliffoney showing the exchange building, existing 12m high wooden pole and the adjacent 18m mast used by Vodafone and Meteor.

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