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Bord Pleanála refuse permission for Kilmaine telecommunications mast


Anton McNulty

A TELECOMMUNICATIONS mast which was to be used to enhance the mobile phone and wireless broadband services in the south Mayo area was refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála.
Cignal Infrastructure, a provider of multi-operator infrastructure developing tower sites for mobile and broadband operators, applied for permission to erect a 24m high multi-user lattice telecommunication structure carrying antennae and dishes at a site at Cregduff, Kilmaine along the N84.
The application was initially refused by Mayo County Council who stated that because of its location along the N84, it would be considered a traffic hazard and also interfere with the character of the landscape.
The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála and while the inspector for the planning authority recommended granting permission, the Board found otherwise and refused permission, stating that they believed the proposed development would ‘lead to an unnecessary proliferation of telecommunications structures’.
“In deciding not to accept the Inspector’s recommendation to grant permission, the Board was not satisfied that the applicant had provided a robust justification for the provision of the proposed telecommunications structure, had adequately demonstrated that opportunities for co-location on existing structures were not possible, and that there was an actual need for increased telecommunications coverage at this location, and accordingly did not comply with the provisions of the Ministerial Guidelines, to which the Board is statutorily obliged to have regard,” the Board stated.
Cignal is a provider of tower sites and fibre infrastructure and has acquired 400 towers throughout the country, and is ‘part of a practical improvement of rural network coverage’ assisting in achieving the objectives of the National Broadband Programme.
Cignal’s customer base includes a range of Irish mobile operators and local wireless internet service providers and the application received the support of Eir who stated that the failure to progress this installation will threaten the provision of future technologies to its network subscribers.

Minimal traffic
In their appeal to ABP, Cignal stated that they will be using an existing agricultural entrance to the site and traffic generation will be minimal. They also refuted the suggestion the structure would be visibly intrusive. They added that the existing telecommunications site in Kilmaine and the nearest other sites would not meet coverage targets.
In her report, the senior planning inspector Suzanne Kehely rejected Mayo County Council’s assertions that the development would be a traffic hazard saying that the projected post development traffic is stated to be in the order a few visits per annum and the issue of traffic can be dealt with by a planning condition.
She also found that the site was in a non-scenic area and did not find it to be an unreasonable intrusion on the local landscape. She found that the proposed development would be in accordance with the proper planning and development of the area and as a result she recommended granting planning permission, but the Board overturned her decision.