Work has begun on the building of a new 40-metre high telecommunications mast on Forth Mountain which was granted planning permission on appeal by An Bord Pleanala after Wexford County Council initally rejected the project on the grounds that it would spoil the visual amenity of the area.
Hibernian Cellular Networks Ltd based in Ashford, County Wicklow has started construction work on the mast at Shelmalier Commons along with security fencing and an access track following a successful appeal against a local authority planning refusal.
In turning down the application the Council took on board objections from local residents and also an existing mast owner Towercom Ltd which said its structure on Forth Mountain has ample space and capacity for additional radio antennae.
The local authority said the applicant had not satisfactorily demonstrated that it wasn't possible to share with existing structures in the vicinity and added that the development would detract from the integrity of a proposed Natural Heritage Area and the views in a designated 'Landscape of Greater Sensitivity'.
During another mast application process involving a separate company, a senior planner with the County Council is on record as saying he is of the opinion there is already a sufficient number of masts with spare capacity on Forth Mountain to serve the needs of the telecommunications sector.
However, An Bord Pleanála overturned the Hibernian Cellular decision, citing a national strategy regarding the improvement of mobile communications services, guidelines issued by the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the location of the proposed development on what it described as a 'well-screened site, relatively remote from residential development'.
The appeals board considered that the mast would not be visually intrusive or prejudicial to public health, would not have a negative impact on the proposed Natural Heritage Area and would be acceptable in terms of traffic, safety and convenience.