VODAFONE have been refused planning permission, having sought to erect a 20m high telecommunications support structure with antennas and dishes in place of an existing 13.5m structure at Ballynacragga, Newmarket on Fergus.
The company had claimed it would offer an improvement in services in the area.
In its application, it said “Vodafone has a requirement to improve its current coverage in the vicinity of Newmarket on Fergus. The objective of this application is to improve and extend coverage and capacity to the town centre and its surrounding areas.”
The application said that the development is required to cater for the many advances in technology since the existing mast was put in place. “The existing structure was built to accommodate Eircell’s requirements of circa 20 years ago. At the time of build it would not have been foreseen that technology would develop as it has or that the demand for the technology would be as large as it has proven to be. The limitation of the structure may be seen from its limited coverage reach and in the degree to which it fails to provide adequate coverage over the target coverage area.”
The application added that, “Current 4G coverage is concentrated outside of the town to the west while the core of the town, responsible for the majority of commercial activity, does not benefit from the same level of connectivity.
“The proposed structure would significantly improve Vodafone’s local coverage, it would greatly enhance the overall provision of 4G technologies to the residents and businesses of Newmarket on Fergus.
“Other operators such as eir and Three (formerly Meteor) may benefit from this infrastructure too to expand their 4G coverage in the Newmarket on Fergus area.”
It added that “There is a certain tension between competing objectives of amenity and ICT provision within the Clare Council Development Plan. Within this tension it is necessary to strike a balance between these competing objectives. The balance is provided through minimalistic intervention at the application site. Users of all mobile networks may benefit from the proposed replacement infrastructure, with no meaningful variance in structure appearance.
“The applicant sees no other solution and certainly no more balanced solution to the coverage and development plan considerations than to swap out the existing mast at this location.
“Given the context of poor existing 3G and 4G availability locally as demonstrated above it is clear that the status quo shall persist without investment in adequate infrastructure.”
There had been a number of submissions on the matter, including one from Seamus and Siobhán Hayes, who stated that it would be very visually obtrusive. “We live next door to the proposed 20 foot mast which is proposed to be erected. The mast is too high and too big for the area. It is a built up area and too close to our property and other neighbour’s houses. A mast of this height would be seen from every house. There are also other masts of this kind in the Newmarket on Fergus area. At times there is a humming noise from the plant.”
They also claimed that four to five vans visit the site, five to six times a day causing a traffic nuisance.
Deirdre O’Brien Vaughan also made an objection, and claimed employees of the applicant trespass at her home. “Access to the existing mast is only possible via our private entrance (Eircode V95K026). I have had to go to extreme lengths to prevent employees of Eir (which wns the site on which the mast is situated) and the company KN Networks from parking their vehicles illegally on my property when accessing the mast. It was only by chance that I discovered that they had placed a manhole in my drive to put cables through. Eir continually caused an obstruction, to the extent that my students could not sometimes depart through the driveway. Eventually I had to put a permanent bollard at the entrance to my property so now they park outside the houses of neighbours, much to their annoyance, but still come through my property with their equipment without any permission sought or given. Up to now they have been blatantly trespassing and I will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening again.”
She claimed that the proposed mast would be “much too close to our dwelling (and only accessible via it).”
At the time of writing, Clare County Council have not set out the reasons for the refusal of planning.