Residents from Knocknagoshel held a protest rally outside Head Office of An Bord Pleanála in Dublin on Tuesday morning against Eir’s decision to appeal Kerry County Council (KCC) ruling to refuse planning for a 15m high monopole mast in Knocknagoshel village.
This is Eir’s fourth attempt at securing permission in the past four years after KCC turned down its latest application on February 1, much to the delight of residents who are vehemently opposed to having the mast close to residential properties and a local school.
The residents handed in their protest letter to An Bord Pleanála, where protest organiser Michelle Keane addressed the gathering and underlined the determination of the locals in their opposition to the mast in their village.
The dispute centres around a piece of land in the village owned by Eir who feel it is suitable for a telecommunications mast.
However, residents say they are not opposed to a mast in the general locality, just not in the village as they claim it poses a health risk.
According to Ms Keane, landowners in the area are willing to discuss the matter with Eir in the hope of sourcing an alternative site away from residential areas.
Among the reasons why Eir’s application was turned down on February 1, KCC stated the site is within the settlement boundary of the village, and is ‘immediately adjacent’ to residential properties. KCC said the mast is not deemed suitable development.
Moreover, KCC felt the development would be ‘highly obtrusive’.
Ms Keane said if An Bord Pleanála was to grant permission to Eir it would be ‘a serious insult’ to the decision-making process of KCC’s own engineers and expertise.
“We have offered them [Eir] alternative sites and the offer of meeting with us to discuss it. We have no objection to the mast, just not in the village,” Ms Keane told The Kerryman.
“They’re persisting in having the mast in their site, and we’re persistent in saying you can have the mast, but not in that site,” she said.
“It’s a fright that we had to come to Dublin today to make our point, we are very determined. The response from locals has been phenomenal. Today was about showing them [Eir] that we’re up for this fight,” she added.
Ms Keane explained the protest is for the ‘future generations’ of Knocknagoshel, adding that Kerry County Council has always been respectful of their position to oppose the mast.
“My concern is if An Bord Pleanála can overrule them [KCC], then why do we have Kerry County Council? It’s a complete contradiction and an insult to people in rural parts of Kerry like ours,” she said.
The Dublin protest comes has a huge disappointment to locals as just over a month ago they celebrated what they thought was a victory when Eir’s third application was rejected by KCC. Eir initially applied for a 18m high mast in 2020, which was also refused.
An Bord Pleanála is expected to make a decision in early July.