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West Clare mast given green light despite objections

PLANNING permission has been granted for the enlargement of an existing telecommunications structure in Doonbeg.

The structure will be raised to an overall height of 24.4 metres after the installation of three 2.9 metre omni antennas and a 0.6 metre dish onto an existing structure.
Planning was granted for the addition, despite the opposition, on visual amenity grounds by some local residents.

Cignal Infrastructure Ltd had lodged the application with Clare County Council and in a letter accompanying it emphasised the public service nature of the infrastructure.

“The purpose of this application is to expand National Digital Radio Service in the local area in order to maintain the needs of our security, fire and safety, health, government and public service agencies.

“Given the proposed development will form part of the local and national Emergency Services radio network, we trust that the planning authority will endeavour to determine this application as quickly as possible within the statutory timescale.”

The application added, “Unlike commercial mobile phone networks whose primary aim is to cover urban centres and areas of high population in order to achieve a return on the investment, the NDRS requires very substantial and specific geographic radio coverage to avoid communication black spots, which could prejudice the safety of communities or individual emergency services members.

“Coverage must be provided to the entire land mass of the county, the islands and 20km out to sea. If a site in the network fails, the vast majority of its coverage must be provided by other surrounding sites.”

One objection to the development stated, “The addition of the extra antennas and dish to the mast, as well as the additional 3.4 metre height of the mast (+17% on the existing 21 metre mast) will have an additional overbearing impact when viewed from our house.

“We also feel that this additional equipment and associated increase in the height of the mast will have a detrimental impact on the landscape.

“The development is immediately visible from our house. The additional antennas, dish and height will have a further material adverse effect on the residential amenity and the openness and character of the area surrounding our house.”

It warned that it would be off putting to visitors.

“Rhynagonnaught Strand is a popular beach with locals and tourists alike and it is a great shame that such a previously unspoiled area is marred by this ugly intrusion.

“Doonbeg is very dependent on the tourist trade and everything possible should be done to preserve the visual appearance of the area.”

However the planners’ report took the view that the development would not have a negative visual impact.

“A comprehensive visual impact appraisal has been submitted which provides photomontages of the proposed development taken from six different viewpoints in the surrounding area.
“It illustrates the characteristics of the proposal and aligns with my own observations from my site visit.

The planner opined that the slim profile of the proposed three antennae will not read as an extension to the height of the mast, when viewed from any viewpoint in the surrounding area, bar views that would be immediately next to the mast.

The added that the additional dish to be mounted halfway up the mast is an orderly use of the mast and will not diminish the visual amenities of the area.

“In conclusion, I consider that the proposed development will not diminish the visual amenities of the area and is therefore acceptable in terms of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.