Taghmon tele mast approved by An Bord Pleanála
An Bord Pleanala has overturned a Wexford County Council decision and granted planning permission on appeal to Three Ireland for the construction of a controversial 24 metre high telecommunications mast at Poulmarle, Taghmon.
Three Ireland(Hutchinson) Limited was refused permission by the Council for the single reason that the proposed development is too close to the site of a yet unbuilt house which was previously granted permission by the local authority, on the basis that the mast would have a detrimental impact on the future occupiers.
A large number of objections were received from residents in the surrounding area as well as Taghmon National School, Poulmarle Residents Committee and the Independent TD Mick Wallace.
Among the issues raised were the negative visual impact of the mast, the potential effect on wildlife, ecology and residential amenity and concerns about health.
Three Ireland appealed to An Bord Pleanála against the Council decision and pointed out that the approved dwelling will no longer be constructed as the site has changed hands and is now under the control of the landowner in the proposed mast location.
The company said the mast was needed to improve coverage and capacity in the area and maintained that the Poulmarle site is the only suitable location due to technical factors and it is not in a sensitive or protected area.
In response, the planning department of Wexford County Council noted that planning permission for the house doesn't expire until August 22 this year.
The local authority asked that if An Bord Pleanála was leaning towards granting permission, it should take heed of concerns raised by the Council's bio-diversity officer about badger setts and bats in the area.
Objecting residents maintained that Three Ireland had not demonstrated the absence of other available sites or the possibility of sharing with existing masts.
They pointed out that there is a history of refusal of planning permission in the area due to concerns about visual amenity.
The An Bord Pleanála inspector ruled that the existence of planning permission for a house on an adjoining site is not a reason for refusal and said the main requirement is compliance with standards in relation to non-ionising radiation.
'I would note that it's not uncommon for such structures or antennae to be in close proximity to residential development (particularly in urban areas) and that there is no requirement for a set separation distance,' he said.
He pointed out that health issues are not a planning consideration in relation to telecommunications structures and said the proposed development would not seriously injure the visual or residential amenity of the area.
He recommended that planning permission be granted subject to conditions and a decision to that effect was made by the appeals board.