The residents of a small North Kerry village have brought their protest over plans to build a telecommunications mast at the heart of their community direct to the doors of An Bord Pleanála.
Organiser Michelle Keane used the protest at ABP’s headquarters to officially lodge her objection to the mast proposed for Knocknagoshel. The plan is to construct the mast on the site of the old Eircom exchange building in the centre of the village.
The group of 25 residents left Kerry at 6am, stopping at the Dublin offices of Eir at Citywest, before proceeding to ABP’s offices in the north inner city.
“We the people’s republic of Knocknagoshel have come here to lodge our objection to An Bord Pleanála to stop Eir from going for their fourth time to try and erect this monstrosity of a 15-metre monopole in the middle of our beautiful village,” Ms Keane said.
She said she hoped ABP’s interim chair Oonagh Buckley “will look sympathetically at the fact that Kerry County Council have refused Eir planning permission three times”.
“And now this is the fourth occasion where they want to lodge another appeal,” she added.
Masts such as that proposed for Knocknagoshel have become increasingly common across the country over the past decade as the demand for ever-faster mobile broadband speeds ramps up.
Last year, the reported that the former deputy chair of An Bord Pleanála, Paul Hyde, had voted to override his own inspectors in the vast majority of applications for telecommunications masts over the previous two years.
That report has led a number of rural communities to contemplate legal action over masts that were approved by ABP in alleged contravention of the country’s telecommunications regulations, which dictate that such masts should only be installed at the centre of smaller towns or villages “as a last resort”.
On Monday Eir sought to distance itself from the application, saying that the application is not their development, but is being brought by agents TowerCom.
A spokesperson said that Towercom lease the property in question “so they would have the support of Eir in terms of the location”, but that the process of managing the application is for Towercom alone.
The name listed as the appellant against Kerry County Council’s refusal of the mast is Eir.