Objections to phone mast beside Kilcoo GAA ground

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

TWENTY-ONE objection letters were received against a planning application for a telecommunications mast on land close to Kilcoo GAA grounds.

The applicant, Telefonica UK Ltd argues that the mast is needed in the Kilcoo area to provide better coverage for local residents and businesses.

However, despite this assurance that mobile and data coverage would be improved, 19 objections were lodged alongside this planning application.

Objectors expressed concerns over the health and visual impacts of this mast and its close proximity to a populated area. But their fears were not enough for planners to refuse planning permission. The green light was given last Wednesday (24 May) during the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's planning meeting.

The proposed site is at the top left of the GAA grounds and environmental health has no objections to its location.

The applicant says it is "one of a number of sites they looked at in the Kilcoo area".

"At present there is an increasing demand on the local network, which is not being supported by the local infrastructure.

It is therefore necessary to construct a new mast in the Kilcoo area which will provide uninterrupted mobile and data coverage to the local residents and businesses.

"A number of sites had been considered as a part of the roll out in the area, however this site was deemed the most suitable due to the limited impacts that it would have on the surrounding area and its ability to provide coverage for the settlement and the wider area." The applicant said this location would "ensure optimum coverage is provided for the target area".

The scheme is aimed at improving coverage for the customers of 02 and Vodafone in terms of their current 2G and 3G coverage and adds the new faster and more efficient 4G technology.

Planners were told that for "technical coverage", it is "necessary to site the proposed mast within a slightly elevated position to ensure the mast is working to its optimum".

"The proposed mast will ensure that coverage is extended to all the low lying areas within the village, whilst ensuring that it does not dominate the landscape in this attractive area." Environmental Health informed planners that they had no objections to the mast, subject to guidelines, however objections were raised by members of the community.

Letters from 19 different addresses were received and mentioned health and visual impacts of the mast, "insufficient evidence" of alternative sites and argued it was "unreasonable" to locate a mast in close proximity to a populated area.

Planners also received a further two objections citing concerns over the proximity to the GAA pitches and children's play area.

Planners said no evidence of risk was found, provided a precautionary approach is used and the ICNIRP public exposure guidelines are adhered to.

Permission has been granted for the 15-metre high, 1.1- metre wide mast and associated cabinets and site fencing with a height of 1.8m to protect and prohibit unauthorised entry.

"On balance the application is considered acceptable and approval is recommended," the planner said.


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