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Phone mast to stay for nine months despite outcome of judicial review
Ireland Created: 6 Jul 2022
A telecommunications company has agreed to move a mobile network mast placed in a Dublin suburb on foot of a flawed decision by An Bord Pleanála – if the mast is left in place for nine months.

Cignal, an Irish subsidiary of Spanish telecomms giant Cellnex, first applied to install the 15-metre tall mast at Kingswood in Tallaght to South Dublin County Council in March of 2020, with that request approved in September of the same year.

The mast application was made under Section 254 of the Planning and Development Act, which grants licences for certain developments along public roads, and the mast itself was built in on Sunday, November 15, 2020.

The matter was appealed to the planning authority in December 2020 by a local community group, the Kingswood Heights Mast Opposition Committee, with ABP’s planning inspector backing the group, stating he was “not satisfied” that the proposed mast location “is on or along a public road in accordance with the requirements of Section 254”.

Section 254 has been used in other jurisdictions, notably Cork city, for the installation of masts as it exempts structures less than 12 metres in height from requiring planning permission.

The planning inspector’s opinion was subsequently overruled by ABP’s deputy chair Paul Hyde, who said in his ruling in May 2021 that the mast “would not be contrary to the site’s open space land use zoning objective” and would be “in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

Mr Hyde, who is currently absent from his duties “without prejudice” pending the results of a number of inquiries regarding his decisions with ABP, made no reference to Section 254 in his order. The Irish Examiner previously revealed that Mr Hyde had voted to override his own planning inspectors in the vast majority – 31 out of 36 - of applications for telecommunications masts made to ABP over the past two years.

The Tallaght community group took a judicial review regarding the ABP decision to the High Court in July of last year, with the planning body agreeing last May to drop its defence of Mr Hyde’s decision, and to pay the objecting group’s legal costs, due to the mast not having been located on a public road.

Cignal then agreed to relocate the mast providing a nine-month timeframe was allowed for the move to take place. It’s understood the local community has insisted that a maximum of a three-month timeframe be granted.

However, no judicial order officially quashing the ABP decision is likely until an agreement has been reached, leaving the situation at an impasse, with a decision unlikely before the courts close for three months on July 29.

A spokesperson for the mast opposition committee said it “formally calls on Cignal to acknowledge the illegality of the mast they erected on public open space and formally calls on them to remove the mast with the same haste that they had in putting it up”.

“I can confirm that An Bord Pleanála, through its legal agents, has informed the High Court that it is conceding this case,” a spokesperson for the planning body said. Asked whether or not it is appropriate the mast should remain in place for nine months given the ruling is invalid, the spokesperson said “that is not a matter within the jurisdiction of An Bord Pleanala”.

A spokesperson for Cellnex meanwhile said that the company “complies with the planning decisions at a local authority and, as necessary, An Bord Pleanala level on all our sites”.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings in which Cellnex is not a party to,” they added.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Irish Examiner, Cianan Brennan, 01 Jul 2022

Corruption? Deputy chair planner overruled inspectors in vast majority of mast applications
Ireland Created: 28 May 2022
Paul Hyde, who has stepped aside from his role at the planning body pending the outcome of two investigations into his voting record, voted to overturn refusal recommendations by planning inspectors in 31 of 36 mast applications since September 2020.

Mr Hyde provided the final planning authorisation for 30 of them.

In contrast, other members of the nine-strong board voted to overturn the recommendation of planning inspectors on three out of nine occasions over the same timeframe.

While it is not unusual for An Bord Pleanála to overrule its own inspectors, sources familiar with the process have indicated that such overrulings occur in roughly 10% of cases, which would make Mr Hyde’s rate of overturning his own inspectors roughly eight times the average.


At least 100 applications to build telecommunications masts or antennae were lodged in the 20-month period under investigation, with 88 approved, 34 of them against the recommendation of An Bord Pleanála's own inspectors.

Of those 100 applications, Mr Hyde voted on 75, second only to fellow board member Michelle Fagan, who voted on at least 78 of them, and some distance ahead of any other members of the board.

Mr Hyde made 71 of those decisions in collaboration with Ms Fagan. Just one of those 71 decisions involved a third board member.

Many of the masts in question have been built close to residential areas and amenities, contrary to ministerial guidelines

In one application by Eir — for a 15m high communications pole in Kells, Co Kilkenny — the planning inspector stated that the applicant “has not provided a sufficient examination of alternative sites”, adding that the build would be “contrary... to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

Overruling the inspector, Mr Hyde said: “The proposed development would not seriously injure the visual or residential amenities of the area.”

Mr Hyde granted permission for five communications structures in Cork against the opinions of his own inspectors. In one of those, an application by Vodafone for an 18m monopole in Innishannon, the inspector recommended refusal, stating the build would “seriously injure the visual amenities of the area” — an opinion flatly contradicted by Mr Hyde in his decision.

All told, Mr Hyde voted to grant permission for 70 out of 75 of the decisions he was involved in, a pass rate of over 93%.

He voted on 42 of the 49 applications made by communications firm Eir over the same period, all bar one were granted.

Of the 20 applications made by Eir across the country for which a recommendation of refusal was made by the planning inspector, Mr Hyde was involved in 19, every one of which was approved.

In fact, the only application made by Eir that wasn’t granted during that time was one of just seven in which Mr Hyde had no involvement.

Mast applications

The 100 applications predominantly involve micropoles, or masts designed to boost blackspots for mobile phone coverage around the country and to aid in large-scale data downloading.

Neither Eir nor Mr Hyde had commented on this matter at the time of publication.

A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanála said it was “conscious of the need” to maintain public confidence and an internal audit of certain files is expected to conclude within the next four weeks.

Meanwhile, Ian Lumley, head of advocacy with heritage body An Taisce, said the trends for mast applications “raise further major questions that need to be added to the investigation of An Bord Pleanála decisions commissioned by the Department of Housing”.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Irish Examiner, Cianan Brennan, 28 May 2022

Phone mast fails to get a good reception with council planners
Ireland Created: 24 Jan 2022
Plans for an 18 metre high mast in the heart of Drumconrath village have run into trouble, with the refusal of planning permission by Meath County Council.

Plans for the structure had met with an angry response from local residents who had described the proposed structure as a "monstrosity".

Fears had been expressed for the health of schoolchildren, as it is close to the local school, and residents claimed it would have a devastating visual impact on the village.

Eircom (trading as eir) had sought planning permission for the installation of an 18 metres monopole carrying antennas, a dish and associated ground-based equipment and cabinets along the main street beside the community centre.

The company has said it is designed to enhance mobile service in the area.

The council said the location was unsuitable at the lowest point in the village and that there should be co-location of antennas with other structures.

A spokesperson for eir said they would review the decision.

Local residents had expressed concerned about the health implications from radiation, pointing out that planning and development guidelines state it should only be as a last resort that masts are located close to schools or residential areas.

Gavin Byrne a member of the local Historical Society said it would have been “a towering monstrosity in the middle of a rural village.

“This mast would have had a negative visual impact on the area,” he said.

"It was great to get confirmation in the post that it had been refused.

"There is already another mast in the area and it could be shared," he said.

Cllr Michael Gallagher said the site is at the lowest location in the village alongside a small river in a flood zone. “In 2O11 this site was flooded with several foot of water.

“This mast will have serious visual impact on the landscape and a negative effect on the village."

He paid tribute to local resident Francis Saul who made strong submission against the proposal to the council.

Cllr Gallagher as very pleased with the decision as lockdown has curtailed the local community in organising strong campaign to oppose the mast.

“We are not opposed to Eircom improving their communication equipment, but not at this site," he said.

“There is a mast on a hill about a one kilometre away from the Eircom site, where they could co locate and share the existing equipment.”
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Meath Chronicle, Ann Casey, 19 Jan 2022

Proposed Eir mast in Balla refused planning permission
Ireland Created: 15 Aug 2021
PLANS by Eir to erect a telecommunications mast in Balla have been rejected by Mayo County Council.

The company sought permission to erect a 21m high monopole telecommunications support structure together with antennas, dishes and associated equipment at the eir exchange, at the rear of Balla Garda Station, on Main Street.

Council planners found that the development would have a negative visual impact on the setting associated with St. Cronan's Catholic Church, which is listed on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

It would interfere with the character of the landscape, which it is necessary to preserve, and would be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.

A number of observations were submitted to the council raising concerns relating to health, visual impact and the proposed location being in close proximity of houses, schools, the church and playgrounds.

Another observation questioned the lack of fibre optic cable in Balla and whether this proposal would supersede the need for the roll-out of faster broadband infrastructure.

In its submissions to the council, Eir said the greater Balla area is a known coverage weak spot.

Unlike most towns and villages there is no sizeable existing telecommunications structure and identifiable garda station mast, Eir mast or other operator mast in Balla which would have historically attracted mobile phone operators.

An existing timber pole infrastructure at the rear of the garda station was outdated, one dimensional and limited in functionality and could not support Eir in achieving its coverage objectives in Balla.

Eir doesn't currently transmit from its exchange at the rear of the station and its coverage is deficient.

The new structure they proposed would significantly improve its next generation services for the benefit of local residents.

Coverage, they noted, has long been a source of complaint among local businesses and residents.

Ballyglass appeal

Meanwhile, a grant of permission for a mast in the village of Ballyglass has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

The council gave the green light to Eircom for a 21-metre high structure.

However, three parties have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against that decision, including the local community council.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Connaught Telegraph, 14 Aug 2021

Relief in Tipperary village as council rejects planning application for phone mast
Ireland Created: 28 Jul 2021
Residents campaigning against the erection of a 15m high telecommunications mast in the heart of New Inn village have achieved a significant victory with Tipperary County Council refusing planning permission for the structure.

Eir’s planning application seeking to erect the mast at the eir exchange building at Graigue, New Inn was rejected by the council’s planners on July 8 because of the negative visual impact it would have on New Inn village and its visual amenities.


The mobile phone and broadband service company has up to four weeks from the date of the council’s decision to lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanála.

Meanwhile, the council has deferred its decision on a similar application by eir to erect an 18m telecommunications mast at the eir exchange building at Kilcooley Way, Gortnahoe.

Local residents are also opposed to this application.
The local authority requested eir to supply further information on the proposed development last week and the company has six months to do this.

Eir’s controversial New Inn planning application seeking permission for a 15m “monopole telecommunications structure with antennae, dishes and associated equipment” attracted 64 submissions/objections, mostly from local residents concerned its location was too close to New Inn’s homes, businesses and national schools.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath, local councillors Andy Moloney (Ind), Máirín McGrath (Ind) and Michael Fitzgerald (FG) and New Inn Tidy Towns committee were also among the objectors.
Cathy Moloney is one of the New Inn residents relieved at the council’s decision. She and her husband Gerard live next door to New Inn’s eir exchange.

She said they were delighted with the council’s decision but pointed out it was just the first step in stopping the mast and they are now waiting to see if eir will lodge an appeal.
“It (the mast) would impact on us very much if it went ahead. I could put my hand out the door of my house and touch the site.
“It’s really up on top of us here. It would have been a disaster. They were going to put an eight foot high fence around the mast. It would have looked awful.

“Thank God the council has refused permission.
“We are happy at the moment and hopefully we will stay that way.”

Tipperary County Council refused planning permission because it deemed the mast would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and would contravene the South Tipperary County Development Plan 2009 and the 1996 Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Telecommunications, Antennae & Support Structures.
Outlining the reasons for the refusal, the council’s acting Director of Planning & Water Services Eamon Lonergan explained that under the Development Plan and guidelines, proposals for telecommunications masts will be facilitated where it is established there is “no significant adverse impact on the surrounding areas and the receiving environment”.
He said the application site for this telecommunications structure was within New Inn village, adjoining residential areas, amenity areas and in close proximity to schools, churches and community buildings.
“The proposed development would form a visually prominent and highly visible feature within New Inn and would negatively impact on the visual amenities and character of the settlement,” he outlined.
Mr Lonergan also said the council was not satisfied, having regard to the limitations in information on other existing sites considered, that no other location was identified that would provide adequate telecommunication.
Eir sought planning permission for the mast to enable it to significantly improve its mobile phone and broadband service provision to New Inn and to facilitate “site sharing” with third party operators from within its New Inn telecommunications exchange.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Tipperary Live, Aileen Hahesy, 22 Jul 2021

Telecoms offering 'much lower' payment rates for masts
Ireland Created: 17 Jun 2020
Northern Irish farmers have raised concerns over the decline in payment rates for mobile phone masts, the Ulster Farmers Union has said.

Farmers in Northern Ireland were dealing with the impact of the new Electronic Communications Code, the union explained.

It said mobile phone operators were offering 'much lower' payment rates for mobile phone masts.

This, in turn, was putting farmers 'under pressure' to agree to new contracts, the UFU added.

A meeting to address members concerns was scheduled for 19 March but had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The UFU said it would now be holding this meeting via teleconference for union members on Tuesday 30 June.

Deputy president, Victor Chestnutt will chair the teleconference which will include presentations and contributions by guest speakers Kate Russell of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) and Scott Edmondson director of Country Estates.

The teleconference will address farmers' concerns regarding the Electronic Communications Code and mobile phone mast agreements.

It will also provide answers to questions and concerns surrounding the implications of the new code.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Farming UK, 16 Jun 2020

State nets €10m from mobile phone operators’ use of masts on public buildings
Ireland Created: 5 Jun 2020
Garda stations providing most facilities with Fitzgibbon St station in Dublin alone generating €185k since 2018.

The State has earned almost €10 million in income from mobile phone operators for the use of masts on Garda stations and other public buildings.

Since 2018 the masts have generated €9,786,707 for State coffers from 162 Garda stations and 18 other buildings.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said it is ironic that the biggest income from a single station is from Fitzgibbon Street station in Dublin’s north inner city “which apart from a very small section, isn’t functioning as a Garda station. While it’s closed it’s still earning an income because of the very large mast at the back of the station”.

Mobile phone mast income from the station is worth €185,000 since the start of 2018. Ms Murphy said that Stepaside station in south Dublin was closed for a number of years but continued to generate income, worth over €169,000 since 2018.

“The reason they don’t require planning permission is because they are Garda stations but if they’re functioning without that, that is an issue in its own right.”

The information on income for the State was supplied in response to a parliamentary question to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe.

Mr Donohoe said the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland grant licences to mobile network operators to install telecommunications equipment on State property, primarily Garda telecommunication structures and the rooftops of other OPW buildings. A standard licence agreement sets out the terms and conditions under which mobile phone operators are permitted to locate on State property.

Stations in the Dublin area generated most income with Fitzgibbon Street and Stepaside followed by Mountjoy station in the north inner city where mast income was worth €167,576 since 2108. Balbriggan station earned €148,872 and Lucan Garda station mast income was valued at €164,000.
Smaller towns

Incomes decreased the more rural the station and a number of smaller towns and villages generated annual incomes of around €7,000.

Ms Murphy acknowledged that this was “good income coming into the State and I think that goes directly to the OPW rather than going into the Garda coffers – but it is income on foot of there being Garda stations”.

Ms Murphy said the bigger incomes in the Dublin area were accounted for because it is difficult to find locations to put masts.

Some rural areas “may well have the mast on a local GAA club or soccer pitch so it means that there isn’t the same pressure on the Garda station and it may well account for why the Dublin stations have a greater income”.

Mobile phone masts are also located at Dublin Castle, the Met Éireann building and the Phoenix Park among other OPW locations.
Source: Irish Times, Marie O'Halloran, 01 Jun 2020

Sinn Féin supports calls for a government review into the health impacts of 5G rollout
Ireland Created: 15 Nov 2019
A FULL GOVERNMENT review to establish the “independent facts” about the possible health impact of 5G rollout should take place, according to Sinn Féin.

Launching its programme for the party’s Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Derry this weekend, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said the Ard Comhairle will be supporting a motion calling for the health and environmental concerns relating to 5G to be reviewed.

5G is the next step up from the 4G and 3G services offered through mobile phones. It is capable of much faster download and upload speeds. Vodafone was the first network to offer it to customers earlier this year, but many other mobile phone networks are now following suit.

A number of communities have voiced concerns about the arrival of 5G in Ireland, in particular the radiation levels it emits, the impact of mobile masts and associated infrastructure, and the radio waves impact on humans.

5G concerns

Councillors in Clare, Leitrim, Sligo and Wicklow have passed motions raising objections to 5G on health grounds, while protests have been held in towns such as Dingle in Kerry.

In light of the pushback, it was reported recently that Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy wrote to Ministers Richard Bruton and Eoghan Murphy stating that it would be a disaster for businesses if 5G was blocked in any way.

Speaking about the motion ahead of the Ard Fheis this weekend, Doherty said the Ard Comhairle of the party met on Saturday and discussed all the motions, including the ones on 5G, and decided to support the motion which calls for a full, independent review into the effects of 5G.

The motion also calls for the government to provide health warnings where applicable to citizens on such technologies.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: The Journal, Christina Finn, 12 Nov 2019

5G ‘is wifi on steroids’ and very worrying, says UCC academic
Ireland Created: 3 Oct 2019
A LEADING expert on the health effects of wireless technology and microwave radiation has said he is very concerned about the fact that wi-fi is installed in Irish primary schools.

Professor Tom Butler from UCC made the comment while addressing a well-attended meeting entitled ‘What is 5G?’ recently held in O’Donovan’s Hotel in Clonakilty.

Speaking to The Southern Star afterwards, Professor Butler said that given his extensive review of the scientific literature and practice in other countries, it is one of concern for him.

‘Wi-fi should not be in Irish schools and on the teaching side of things, it serves very little purpose in a child’s education. Wired technologies are available and are just as effective as wireless technology,’ said Prof Butler.

‘Given the risks that many studies have identified and given the fact that Ireland is supposed to have entered the Precautionary Principle under EU Law, one of the areas is that you minimise the risk to children,’ he said.

‘Two recent studies evaluated the educational performance of children in class in Saudi Arabia with two schools used, one was exposed to wi-fi and the other wasn’t. In the school that was most exposed the students, all things being equal, had difficulties in terms of learning and in achieving their learning objectives and in simple acts of

Prof Butler said that given this evidence and given the Precautionary Principle, it makes sense to him that school principals should be outlawing it on their premises.

‘However, there are schools, particularly primary schools, which have resisted the imposition of wi-fi upon them, but there other schools where there are principals who are enthusiastic about technology.

‘There’s nothing wrong with that, but they’re totally unaware of the risks that they’re exposing children to and even staff, especially those who are pregnant.’

Prof Butler also said he has heard that some of the early promoters of using ipads in schools are taking them out of the schools, because they have found that they are not useful for teaching.

‘I teach IT and I actually ban all IT technology during my class,’ he added.

Prof Butler, a former satellite and microwave communication engineer, also outlined his fears about 5G – which promises superfast internet with endless wireless applications – and believes its effect will be wide-ranging.

‘5G is like wi-fi on steroids, and the genie is out of the bottle now. We can’t put it back in.

‘But what we have to do here is recognise the risks that exist and get the powers that be to recognise those risks and do something about it, where children are concerned,’ he added.

‘We need to have the conversations about 5G and the cancer risks associated with it, and taking steps to avoid it as the mortality risks are very high.’
Click here to view the source article.
Source: The Southern Star, Kieran O'Mahony, 28 Sep 2019

Cllr calls for more debate on use of 5G technologies
Ireland Created: 3 Oct 2019
A COUNCILLOR has called for the local authority to take the issue of 5G seriously and lead the way in explaining the new technology.

Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) raised the issue at a meeting of the local authority this week.

‘About two-and-a-half months ago, I had a question here for the County Council in relation to 5G which is a new type of technology and I asked that we should have a debate about it in the Council chamber if we needed it,’ said Cllr Murphy.

‘I have asked for this in development meetings, too, but have got no response so far. How seriously are we taking this issue?’ he wondered.

‘People are worried out there about the introduction of 5G and we should, as a Council, lead in explaining or even making up an area where we can publicly debate it,’ he added.

Cllr Murphy added that he doesn’t know whether he is going the wrong or right way about it but said that the introduction of 5G brings with it, not only major health implications, but also benefits too.

‘We should take the lead role here and open up a public debate on it.’

Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) supported Cllr Murphy’s call and said he has been surprised with the amount of calls he has received from members of the public on the issue of 5G.

5G networks are the next generation of cellular technology which allows for faster speeds and downloads. However, the discussion on the technology has focused on claims of its potentially cancer-causing radiation.

A recent meeting held in Clonakilty about 5G was addressed by Professor Tom Butler from UCC, a leading expert on the health effects of wireless technology and microwave radiation. He told attendees that the conversation about 5G and the cancer risks associated with it needs to begin now before it is rolled out across communities.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: The Southern Star, Kieran O'Mahony, 02 Oct 2019

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