A CONTROVERSIAL plan to install a 21-metre mast in the centre of Scariff has been defended by its developers, on the basis that it will future proof the area’s communications needs.
Proposals lodged by Eir at the end of last year, sparked considerable local alarm over moves to replace a 12m pole at the exchange of The Connacht Road with a much larger structure. A total of ten objections were lodged, including one with a petition containing 48 signatures.
Against that backdrop, County Planners contacted Eir in February seeking Further Information (FI)
on a number of of aspects of the mast plan. The company has now responded.
Planners had raised concerns over the proposed location of the mast, which would be just 15m from a number of local homes and the potential for “an over-bearing, imposing effect”. They also said the proposed mast would be “highly visible” from locations including the R352, a designated scenic route.
In its recent response to that query, Eir stated that the mast would be 60m from the nearest point of the scenic route and that views of the structure would only be “intermittent and occasional”. The company added that mature trees on the south-east boundary of the exchange “will screen the bottom section of the structure, with only the top remaining visible”. It also asserted that the surrounding “variety of buildings and streetscape” would reduce the visual impact.
In February, planners had also asked Eir to clarify which of the existing structures will remain on site layout and which will be removed. In response, the company said that one 10m pole will be removed while another 12m pole will remain in place.
Concluding its FI response, Eir said the mast would be visually sympathetic to the local landscape and would facilitate site-sharing, preventing the need for additional structures in the area. “The structure will significantly improve eir [sic] coverage,” the FI response said. “It shall help eliminate coverage blackspots and shall make a significant positive contribution to the benefit of residents, businesses and social enterprises in Scariff.” Eir concluded its response saying, “we respectfully request Clare County Council grant permission for the proposed structure”.
It remains to be seen if Eir’s letter will allay local concerns.
Among the objections on the planning file is a 14-page objection from East Clare Community Residents. The document raised concerns about the impact of the proposed mast on the Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) of Scariff and Tuamgraney. It outlined detailed concerns over health and safety and takes issue over the proximity of the proposed mast to Scariff National School.
The objection cited a number of national and international publications and policy documents on health, education and planning. Its conclusion stated: “I urgently request that you prioritise the safety of the people who live and work in the vicinity of Scariff and especially the children who attend Scariff National School.
“I am not against the use of technology, but it must be safe for everyone and in this respect there is the alternative option of using wired fibre broadband instead of wireless telecommunication, which is safer, faster, more reliable and more cyber-secure.”
In addition to Scariff and Tuamgraney, addresses of signatories are located across East Clare, including Mountshannon, Flagmount, Feakle and Bodyke.
A number of people living close to the exchange also lodged individual objections. They told planners the development would impact negatively on them, in terms of their enjoyment of their homes and gardens. They also said that the structure will overshadow their family homes, and that they have concerns about the development being located in the centre of a residential area.
Deputy Michael McNamara, also made a representation on Eir’s application, “requesting the need for Clare County Council to engage with those who have made submissions and those who have concerns within the wider public to ensure those concerns are addressed in the planning process”.
A decision from County Planners is expected in the coming weeks.
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 065 6864146.