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Plan for 21-metre mast sparks opposition in Clare town


A PLAN to install a 21-metre mast at the Eir exchange in Scariff is being considered by Clare County Council.

If successful, the application from Eircom Limited, trading as Eir, would see the replacement of an existing 12 metre wooden pole with the much higher telecommunications mast with dishes, antennas and other equipment. 

The plan has already encountered some opposition locally with objections from a number of residents. To-date, three people living close by have told planners the development will impact negatively on them, in terms of their enjoyment of their homes and gardens. They had 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. 

In its letter of application, Eir argues that the new mast would be screened by the exchange building and by mature trees, and that it is essential to 3G and 4G coverage for homes and businesses. The document notes that the digital market is expanding “at exponential rates”.

“Today mobile phones are only one component of a digital world inhabited by a wide range of communications services including wearable technology and IoT [Internet of Things],” the letter states.

 

The company adds that, in order to continue to roll out 3G and 4G services, it requires an additional site in Scariff. “The current site that the eir antenna are located at are clipped by neighbouring trees,” the company states. “This is leading to a reduced service in Scarriff [sic] centre.”

As a justification for the new mast, Eir states that “existing infrastructure is inadequate to fulfil the current and forecast demand for new technologies and communication services”. Eir says that the new mast would be able to accommodate more operators and boost coverage for residents and businesses. 

In its application, Eir also says that a site at Drewsborough where it operates a 27-metre mast, along with Vodafone, is not considered suitable.

It contends that replacing the Scariff mast “is the only realistic and feasible option available”. The company also maintains that the project is in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan, Project 2040, The National Planning Framework, The Report of the Mobile & Broadband Taskforce & Action Plan for Rural Development and the Our Rural Future policy document. 

In relation to the visual impact, Eir says that the mast will not increase the number of telecommunications in the town and that it will be screened, from the Connacht Road, by the exchange building and existing mature trees. 

“Failure to provide these services will have an adverse impact on the local area and its economy,” the application also states. 

The Council is accepting submissions on the application up to January 25. At this point, the authority has given February 15 as an indicative decision date. 

About Fiona McGarry

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 fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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