Commercial mast move fails at draft plan stage

A move to block potential future commercial telecommunications from being located in many residential areas has failed at Kildare County Council.

A move to block potential future commercial telecommunications from being located in many residential areas has failed at Kildare County Council.

Celbridge area non-party Cllr. Catherine Murphy sought to have a new statement on the location of masts inserted into the new Kildare County Development Plan (CDP), which will run from next year to 2011.

Cllr. Murphy wanted to insert a clause which stated that where there is a commercial element in communication masts at Garda stations or other security points, they should require regular planning permission rather than be able to get the go-ahead without permission.

The County Manager, Michael Malone, and senior officials disagreed with the proposals.

They say that exempted development regulations apply.

Cllr. Murphy’s was referring to Garda stations which are located in very residential areas and cited the example of Leixlip where the new 24-hour Garda station has a mast, which is available for commercial use.

Given the concerns over the effects of masts, Cllr. Murphy accepted that defence and security technology is required but not the commercial element.

She said that if her proposal was adopted, planners would treat it differently than if it was an “exempt development” (ie. a development which does not have to comply with normal planning requirements).

Cllr. Murphy said masts were built bigger than necessary near houses and schools because of the exempt regulations.

In a written reply to councillors at their special meeting on the CDP on 22 March, the planners said that the CDP cannot over-ride existing legislation in the area.

But they did suggest the inclusion of a new statement in the plan. It reads: “The location of commercial masts on State buildings will be discouraged. All masts on State buildings shall have regard to national and council policies regarding schools in residential areas, etc.”

Senior Planner, Michael Kenny, said drawings were usually submitted by the Department of Justice or Defence. He said the Council could “tease out” with the departments to what extent there would be a commercial element.

Mr. Kenny said if the commercial bodies wanted a free-standing mast it should be judged on general mast policy.

A full draft of the plan could be agreed this week and the draft will be published – giving the public an opportunity to comment before the final plan is agreed.

Leinster Leader, Published Date: 25 March 2010

By Henry Bauress

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