Pole axed.. Angry residents want ‘eyesore’ mast erected at Laytown bus stop removed
Residents in Laytown came out in force to voice their anger at an "eyesore mast" installed outside their housing estate without public consultation.
Aoife Daly who lives in Inse Bay, says that the 15 metre telecom monopole appeared directly in front of her home opposite the beach without any warning.
"The monstrosity of a pole was installed right outside my house within 40 minutes last Thursday without any kind of notice," she said.
"People were sending me pictures of it at work and I couldn't believe it, I was so shocked to come home and see a giant mast right in front of my house," she added.
The development was approved under Section 254, a controversial section of planning law which allows telecoms companies to apply to local authorities for a licence to install masts without the obligation to engage in public consultation.
Meath County Council granted a licence to Telecom operator Cellnex to install the infrastructure to improve 3G and 4G services to Inse Bay with the condition under section 10 that the company engage in consultation with local residents in advance of any proposed development taking place.
However, the company appealed this stating that the process would be too "onerous" and An Bord Pleanála overturned the condition allowing them to forge
In the planning authority's report it deemed that the visual impact assessment demonstrated that the structure," in combination with existing public utility poles would not have a significant impact or alteration to the existing views along the public road and towards the site."
In their decision, An Bord Pleanála directed Meath County Council to alter the licence and remove condition 10.
"From our point of view, we didn't have any idea what is, we didn't know who the company was and were not consulted in any way. We think it is a 3G or 4G mast but we don't know what it's submitting. I have five small children, I don't know what the health implication are and I cannot understand how An Bord Pleanála overturned their decision to inform residents.
"Laytown is a beautiful area and it looks so ugly right in front of the sea, surely there is somewhere else it could have gone where there would not have been an obstruction of view. When you went to our bedroom you used to have a lovely sea view, now you see a massive eyesore instead."
Local councillor Sharon Tolan says the installation of pole without public consultation is "outrageous."
"Eircom has received a lot of communication from people in the Laytown area about poor coverage but something so significant should require public consultation.
"There are a lot of locations in the area that would have been more appropriate and less intrusive on people.
"It's also adjacent to a special area of conservation so I don't understand how they are not required to submit an environmental impact assessment report as part of their application."
Labour Cllr Elaine McGinty said: “Planning in this country is a shambles, the developer-led model is designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many. The lack of engagement with community is not the right way to go about this. I am not saying this technology is not needed but the way in which it has been done is the problem.
"Instead of working together, it creates division and further erodes public trust in the government to represent the public’s interest. The planning process was bypassed and the community ignored."
Meath County Council said that they reviewed the s254 legislation and "it did not require public consultation." In this case Meath County Council did grant the licence in April 2021 and set out several conditions including that the developer provide information of their proposed development to residents within 100m radius.
"Following receipt of this Decision to Grant the s254 licence, Cellnex appealed Condition 10 to An Bord Pleanála in July 2021," added a spokesperson for Meath County Council.
"The Board delivered their decision on the 26th May 2022 and found that Condition 10 should be removed from the grant of licence."
An Bord Pleanala has been contacted for comment