Proposed Eir mast in Balla refused planning permission
PLANS by Eir to erect a telecommunications mast in Balla have been rejected by Mayo County Council.
The company sought permission to erect a 21m high monopole telecommunications support structure together with antennas, dishes and associated equipment at the eir exchange, at the rear of Balla Garda Station, on Main Street.
Council planners found that the development would have a negative visual impact on the setting associated with St. Cronan's Catholic Church, which is listed on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
It would interfere with the character of the landscape, which it is necessary to preserve, and would be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.
A number of observations were submitted to the council raising concerns relating to health, visual impact and the proposed location being in close proximity of houses, schools, the church and playgrounds.
Another observation questioned the lack of fibre optic cable in Balla and whether this proposal would supersede the need for the roll-out of faster broadband infrastructure.
In its submissions to the council, Eir said the greater Balla area is a known coverage weak spot.
Unlike most towns and villages there is no sizeable existing telecommunications structure and identifiable garda station mast, Eir mast or other operator mast in Balla which would have historically attracted mobile phone operators.
An existing timber pole infrastructure at the rear of the garda station was outdated, one dimensional and limited in functionality and could not support Eir in achieving its coverage objectives in Balla.
Eir doesn't currently transmit from its exchange at the rear of the station and its coverage is deficient.
The new structure they proposed would significantly improve its next generation services for the benefit of local residents.
Coverage, they noted, has long been a source of complaint among local businesses and residents.
Meanwhile, a grant of permission for a mast in the village of Ballyglass has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
The council gave the green light to Eircom for a 21-metre high structure.
However, three parties have lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against that decision, including the local community council.