While An Bord Pleanala’s decision on the mobile communications mast has not been made yet, its recent history with this type of application is a problematic one
It was a cold spring morning on Dublin’s Marlborough Street, but spirits were high among the people who had arrived from Knocknagoshel.
They’d left the Kerry village before dawn to get to Dublin just after 11am, for a protest date at the offices of An Bord Pleanála, the State’s planning authority.
There was an element of theatre to proceedings, between organiser Michelle Keane invoking the People’s Republic of Knocknagoshel in a brief speech outside the offices, to the gathering’s main banner, which cheerfully quoted another famous rebel, Charles Stewart Parnell: “Arise Knocknagoshel and take your place among the nations of the earth.”
Ms Keane had ended the merry protest by officially delivering her objection to mobile operator Eir’s application to build a “monstrosity” mobile communications mast in her village to An Bord Pleanála’s reception staff.
Theatrics aside, however, there was an important point being made, and one which could spell a significant headache for An Bord Pleanála in the not-too-distant future.
Knocknagoshel may be small — population circa 750 — but its residents’ actions in protesting an application to build a 15-metre high telecoms mast in the heart of their village are noteworthy.
While An Bord Pleanala’s decision has not even been made yet, its recent history with this type of application is a problematic one.
In May of 2022, this paper reported that Paul Hyde, the former chair of the planning body had been approving mast appeals, notably by Eir, over the previous 20 months.
Of the 102 such applications we looked at, Mr Hyde had been involved in 77 of them, beating the law of averages by a distance (applications are supposed to be randomly dispersed among board members).
He approved 72 of them, and overruled his own inspectors’ recommendations of refusal at a rate 9 times greater than the board’s average.
For applications by Eir, the figures were even more striking. Mr Hyde, who resigned from the board last July and is facing a criminal investigation, was involved in 42 such appeals during the period in question. He approved all 42.
Of those, 35, or 83% of them, had initially been refused at local authority level.
Those eye-catching statistics recently formed the basis for the judicial review of a mast decision made in 2021 for another rural village, Kells in Co Kilkenny.
Despite the appeal being well outside the statute of limitations of 8 weeks for such an action, leave was granted for the case to proceed.
understands that numerous similar actions are in gestation. Should they succeed en masse, and there is a distinct possibility the masts in question will have to go, and An Bord Pleanála will have to foot the legal bill.
This brings us back to Knocknagoshel.
Ms Keane and her co-protestors have put it up toA n Bord Pleanála’s new interim chair Oonagh Buckley and asked her to take note of the fact Eir’s application for the village had already been refused by Kerry County Council three times.
“It’s not as if we don’t want the mast at all,” local Donal Falvey, whose property borders the planned site of the monopole at the old Eircom exchange in the village, said.
“We couldn’t have been more accommodating. We just don’t want it in the centre of the community. We don’t want it beside the school.”
In its refusal, last January, Kerry Co Council said the mast would contravene the telecommunication policies set out in its most recent county development plan. An Bord Pleanála has lost countless strategic development cases in court for dismissing those development plans.
Should the authority decide to ignore the decision by the local authority and grant permission anyway, you suspect it may have another legal case on its hands. And others who have come out on the wrong end of these mast decisions are likely to be watching.
Villagers from Knocknagoshel in Co Kerry have handed in a submission to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) over plans by eir for a 15m telecommunications mast in the middle of the village.
The group travelled to Dublin earlier today to protest outside the planning board and to lodge its objection.
Kerry County Council refused planning permission for the telecommunications mast in January but the company has appealed the decision to ABP.
This is the third time that eir has attempted to develop a mast at its old telephone exchange building in the middle of the north Kerry village.
All previous applications have been turned down by Kerry County Council.
A bus with 15 people on board left Knocknagoshel for Dublin just after 6am.
The group held a peaceful protest outside the entrance to ABP’s offices in the city centre.
Earlier, a similar protest – calling on eir to reconsider the site – took place outside the telecommunication company’s head office in Citywest.
In a statement, eir said that given the decision of Kerry County Council is under appeal, it would not be making any comment at this stage.
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.
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.
Mobile network is appealing the refusal of its third application to erect the telecommunications mast in Knocknagoshel
Plans to develop a 15-metre telecommunications mast in Knocknagoshel have been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
Kerry County Council refused the application by Eir at the end of January, the company had now appealed this to appeals board.
This is Eir’s fourth attempt to develop this infrastructure at its old telephone exchange building in the middle of the North Kerry village.
Eir initially sought planning permission in 2020 for an 18-metre telecommunications mast at its exchange building in Knocknagoshel village; this was refused.
The company applied late last year for a 15-metre structure; an initial application was deemed invalid, and the company again applied, but this application was refused by Kerry County Council.
Eir now has now appealed this to An Bord Pleanála; a decision is due on the case on July 3rd.
Locals in Knocknagoshel have been vehemently opposed to the location of the proposed mast, close to the school, houses, and other amenities, stating more suitable sites are available outside the village.
They’ve vowed to fight the proposal, and are calling for objections to be made to An Bord Pleanála up until the deadline of March 27th.
‘The Spirit of Parnell is Alive and Well in Knocknagoshel’ said telecommunications mast protest organiser Michelle Keane as she and neighbours gathered for celebrations
A planning application for a 15-metre telecommunications mast in Knocknagoshel has been refused by Kerry County Council.
This was the third attempt by Eir to develop the infrastructure at its exchange building in the middle of the North Kerry village.
Eir initially sought planning permission in 2020 for an 18-metre telecommunications mast at its exchange building in Knocknagoshel village; this was refused.
The company applied late last year for a 15-metre structure; an initial application was deemed invalid, and the company again applied, but this application has now been refused by Kerry County Council.
Locals in Knocknagoshel have been vehemently opposed to the location, close to the school, houses, and other amenities, stating more suitable sites are available outside the village.
Eir now has four weeks to make an appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the council’s refusal.
Local woman, Michelle Keane, who organised a protest rally against the proposed mast development, says it’s a great day for the village now that the council has refused permission.
She says however, they’ll fight this proposed mast development all the way, and will make an objection to An Bord Pleanála, if Eir appeals the case.
Read full article –> www.radiokerry.ie
Residents in Knocknagoshel are celebrating after plans to erect a 15m high telecommunications mast in their village was turned down by Kerry County Council. Mast protest organiser Michelle Keane (seated) celebrating with neighbours at the news of Kerry County Council’s turning down the Eir Mast application for Knocknagoshel Village. Included are from left: Johnny Morrissey, Patricia Scanlon, Máire Collins, David Falvey, Deirdre Bell, Larry Hickey, Pat Griffin, Liz Lane, Geoff Collins, Anthony McAuliffe and John O’Connor. Photo by John Reidy.
The small village of Knocknagoshel is rejoicing after what it claims is a ‘big victory’ following Kerry County Council’s (KCC) decision to refuse planning to Eir for a 15m high monopole mast in its village.
It’s the third occasion that a request for permission has been denied, and the natives feel protests and community solidarity helped play a significant role in swaying the council’s decision.
A show of unity by over 50 people representing the concerns of residents, the local school and business have opposed the mast plans for over three years. They cited the proximity of the mast to village life as a threat to public health as the primary concern.
KCC’s decision was made known on Wednesday morning and was immediately met with a rapturous response by the residents.
The Council said the proposed development is located within the settlement boundary of the village and is ‘immediately adjacent’ to residential properties. KCC felt the development would be ‘highly obtrusive’.
“This is a big victory for our cause, our village, and rural Ireland. We’re honest people. We want broadband but putting this thing in the middle of our village was a non-runner,” said protest organiser, Michelle Keane.
She thanked Kerry County Council for being ‘very respectful’ of their campaign as residents submitted numerous objections stating that a mast was not wanted in the village.
“The people’s republic of Knocknagoshel have spoken and their voices have been heard and respected by the council,” Michelle added.
Liz Lane, Principal of Loughfouder National School, said she is ‘delighted’ that the health and safety of residents, staff and children at the school will be better protected by the decision.
“This is a proud community. This mast would have been an eyesore in the middle of the village,” said Ms Lane.
Resident Johnny Morrissey, who lives approximately 10 metres from where the mast would have been erected, also expressed his delight at the decision.
“I’m over the moon with this. Not to grant planning permission for a third time in the interest of public well-being and safety is important to us,” he said.
“I have to say a huge thank you to Michelle [Keane] for organising the protest and notifying everyone in the parish. Without her vision this mast could have gone up overnight, where would we be then?” Mr Morrissey added.
Local postman John O’Connor explained that through his work meeting people around the parish he was able to gauge the wider opinion. He found ‘total resistance’ to the idea of a mast in the village.
“The consensus in this locality is that people were not against having the mast in the area. They just wanted it out of the village and move it somewhere in the countryside, or on higher ground,” he said.
In a final nod to the village’s famous historic banner, ‘Arise Knocknagoshel, and Take Your Place Among the Nations of the Earth’ – which dates to 1891 when the residents of Knocknagoshel marched to a rally in support of Charles Stewart Parnell – Ms Keane said:
“Charles Stuart Parnell is truly smiling down in spirit on us all from Heaven in our victory. The great people of Knocknagoshel came out in mighty force to object to this Eir mast. A million thanks to everyone.”
It’s not clear if Eir will appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála. Residents say they will continue to oppose the plans.
Read full article –> www.independent.ie