AN Bord Pleanála have rejected their inspector’s recommendation to grant permission for the erection of 30m high lattice telecommunications support structure at Trudder in Newtownmountkennedy, by refusing planning.
The initial application from Vantage Towers Ltd seeking permission for the lattice telecommunications structure, with associated equipment within a 10m by 10m palisade fenced compound, was refused by Wicklow County Council in January of this year.
The structure and compound were designed to house equipment for Vodafone and potentially other operators in the future. It was proposed to gain entrance to the site from an existing farm gate with a new access track which would follow the hedge line for approximately 232 metres to the proposed compound.
The application also stated that there is a clear deficiency in the basic 4G overage to the south of Newtownmountkennedy.
Wicklow County Council refused planning, having regard to the design, scale and height of the proposed lattice structure 30 metres directly adjacent to lands zoned for proposed residential development and a future school campus, and the failure of the applicant to submit a visual impact statement of views to the south east of the site.
It was also found that the applicant failed to provide sufficient evidence that there is a need for the structure at this location noting that they only provided coverage data and a letter of support from one service provider.
Four submissions were received by Wicklow County Council regarding the proposed development, including one from the Newtownmountkennedy Town Team.
The decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála, whose inspector recommended granting planning permission.
Observers felt a monopole or mast in the form of a tree would be more suitable, but in the opinion of the inspector, the lattice structure would be visible in the landscape, but would be viewed in the main, particularly from the protected view, against a backdrop of forested terrain. Therefore, the mast will be an article in the view, rather than the focus of the view.
The inspector also noted that there are angle masts in the area, so the use of a lattice structure would not alien in the landscape. There would be visual impacts, but the inspector was satisfied that they would not have been be so detrimental as to warrant refusal of permission.
In recommending permission, the inspector stated: “It is considered, that the proposed development, would not be detrimental to protected views, would not seriously injure the residential and visual amenities of the area, and would therefore be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
However, in deciding not to accept the inspector’s recommendation to grant permission, the Board considered that, due to the lack of a landscape visual impact assessment with a protected view and the limited information provided with the application and appeal to justify locating the telecommunications mast on the site and evidence of how it would improve mobile phone coverage, the justification for such a development would not satisfactorily be in accordance with the relevant objectives and standards of the Development Plan and, therefore, would not be consistent with the proper planning and development of the area.