The original permission for the first mast was granted on the understanding that its capacity was sufficient to address present and future needs. FIE has failed to find any technical reasons to justify the new site.
Nowen Hill is one of number of other sites in West Cork where increasing number of competing and complementary communications structures have led to ‘visual clutter’ on the skyline. Only valid planning reasons should govern planning decisions and in this case Vodaphome should be required to co-locate.
The Planning Authority,
Cork County Council,
4 February 2008
Development: Retention of existing temporary 15m high telecommunications support structure, antennas, equipment container and associated equipment within fenced compound and access track
Location: Nowen Hill, Cullenagh, Dunmanway, Co Cork
Planning Reference Number: 08/6
Applicant: Vodafone Ireland Ltd
Objection to Development Consent
Friends of the Irish Environment was established in 1997 to create and maintain a network of conservationists and environmentalists in Ireland to monitor and develop Irish planning and European law, encourage full public participation, and provide assistance to the public with environmental cases and issues.
This is an application is for the retention of an illegally constructed mast at a prominent location in West Cork.
National planning policy is clear in requiring planning authorities to encourage co-location of antennae on existing support structures and masts. No technical justification has been provided to the planning authority to require the duplication of infrastructure this development would create.
The planning history indicates that the applicant accepted co-location as being in the best interests of sustainable development.
Therefore for reasons of planning policy and planning history we respectfully request the planning authority to REFUSE permission for this application
National Planning Policy
National policy in relation to the requirement for co-location is made clear in the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures:
"National policy requires that all development should conform to the concept of environmental sustainability, meeting socio-economic objectives while conserving the natural resources upon which development ultimately depends.
These considerations demand that the fullest attention is paid to the location of masts by operators and planning authorities. In addition, in order to avoid an unnecessary proliferation of masts, owners (i.e. those controlling access to support structures and masts) would be expected to facilitate co-location of antennae with other operators. Owners and operators will be expected to respond to requests for sharing in a timely, fair and reasonable manner. Accordingly, where the existing site operator/owner considers it is technically possible and where sharing would not preclude the parties from foreseeable future development on the shared facility, planning authorities should encourage co-location of antennae on existing support structures and masts."
Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures, Guidelines for Planning Authorities, Department of the Environment 1996
Nowen Hill [Cnoc na nAbhann - hill of the rivers] rises to 535 metres in the Shehy/Knockboy area of West Cork. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and provides amenity to large number of hill walkers, who contribute to the economic survival of a remote and mountainous area of the county.
The location shares a planning history with a number of other sites in West Cork key to the development of wireless communications infrastructure where increasing number of competing and complementary communications structures have led to ‘visual clutter' on the skyline.
At this location the initial structures [90/1904, 92/360, and 94/1677] were given permission before Government Policy was established in 1996 and without the benefit of guidance at Regional or County Development Plan level.
92/3260 was replaced with a larger structure under 01/1139. This permission anticipated co-location by providing sufficient structural capacity to support the additional wind-load generated by further equipment. The Planner's Reports for 01/1139 make it clear that this permission was granted on the understanding that the capacity of the existing mast was sufficient to address present and future needs.
This 2001 Planner's Report specifically notes that
"the proposal is in accordance with the DoE Guidelines recommendation to avoid an unnecessary proliferation of masts by a number of companies sharing a single structure. Moreover, the potential visual impact of a higher mast is mitigated by the fact that there will be a reduction in the overall impact.
The applicant in fact constructed bases at the site of 01/1139 to facilitate co-location. No technological reasons have been provided to justify the change in plans. The requirement for detailed technological reasons for non co-location are well established.
Any reasons for changes to the planned development of communication structures at this location must be valid planning reasons and none have been provided.
In these circumstances where national policy and planning history combine to recommend the co-location of the applicant's infrastructure, it would be a manifestly unreasonable and unjustifiable decision to permit retention of the current structure.
FIE has lodged an objection which supports the professional planning staff about the planning application to replace Tralee’s Ballybeggan Racecourse with a mixed commercial, industrial, and residential development At a pre-planning meeting the planning staff tried to explain to the developers that the site is zoned for amenity and a grant of permission would breach the County’s Development Plan. The planners told the developer that ‘in its present form the proposal contravenes the zoning of the land’ and yet the developers continued irregardless. Why? The application states that as the land is not zoned for planning they are not required to provide social and affordable housing under the Planning Act - saving them €20m - €25m.
The racecourse serves dual purposes. ‘It is a valuable amenity not only for horse lovers – and the support of rural community life - but as a unique 100 acre limestone grassland enclosed by a historically important wall it is providing habitat for a range of biodiversity, including birds such as the protected and increasingly rare skylark.
See our Press Release.
The environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment has lodged an objection to the development of Tralee's Ballybeggan Racecourse that they claim ‘supports the planners'.
A spokesman for the group said they were ‘disturbed' to discover that the file shows clearly that at a pre-planning meeting the planners told the developer that the ‘in its present form the proposal contravenes the zoning of the land' and yet the developers continued ‘irregardless.'
The Tralee Racecourse is zoned for amenity and a grant of permission for a mixed commercial, industrial, and residential development would breach the County's Development Plan. The planners told the developer that ‘in its present form the proposal contravenes the zoning of the land’ and yet the developers continued irregardless. Why? The application states that as the land is not zoned for planning they are not required to provide social and affordable housing under the Planning Act - saving them €20m - €25m.
‘A grant of permission under these conditions can only further weaken the planning system and undermine the moral of the professional planning staff, who have been ignored in the desire to develop one of the countiy's most important amenities.
‘It is no surprise that it is increasingly difficult to attract planning staff to Kerry County Council if pre-planning advice is treated with this contempt.'
The group claims the racecourse serves dual purposes. ‘Tralee Racecourse is a valuable amenity not only for horse lovers. It is a unique 100 acre limestone grassland enclosed by a historically important wall and providing habitat for a range of biodiversity, including birds such as the protected and increasingly rare skylark.
A spokesman also explained that any change in the Plan made at this stage to facilitate a project of this scale ‘must be subject to a wider Strategic Environmental Assessment in which the impact on the overall amenities of the areas must be considered.'
An Bord Pleanala,
15 November, 2007
Your References: PL08 .PA0002 and PC 08.PC0002
Our References 07.000456
Re: Re: Planning application by Shannon LNG
Proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) regasification terminal
Ralappane and Kilcolgan Lower, County Kerry
Friends of the Irish Environment was established in 1997 with a primary objective of monitoring the full implementation of European law.
Article 12 of the EU Seveso II directive states:
"Member States shall ensure that their land-use and/or other relevant policies and the procedures for implementing those policies take account of the need, in the long term, to maintain appropriate distances between establishments covered by this Directive and residential areas".
In the case of the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) regasification terminal on the River Shannon, given the proximity to centres of population and the riparian location, we are concerned that the issue of alternative locations was not properly addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement. [EIS Volume 2.4.1]
The EIS notes that off-shore terminals are a ‘preferred option for environmental and planning purposes', but rejects their consideration because of ‘cost and technical difficulties.'
‘Considerations of Offshore siting' omits any reference to the Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Renewable Energy in Maritime Island Climate, which took place on 26 - 28 April 2006 and which included a presentation entitled ‘Security of Energy Supply in Ireland - A Key Driver for Renewable Energy'. The authors of this study suggested a location adjacent to the Kinsale Gas field in the following terms:
‘An LNG terminal in Ireland could be constructed near Kinsale Gas Field, connected to the gas platform, thus the existing gas pipeline from the gas field to Inch can be used. In this way, LNG could be used provide at least a quarter of national gas demand or be sufficient entirely for the Cork area . LNG can also be used as seasonable gas storage at the LNG plant (liquefaction and storage during warm season and vaporisation and injection into local pipelines during cold period). This service can increase the volume of storage in Ireland, which is currently limited to what is contained within the pipelines and remaining reserves at the Kinsale Gas Field.'
We would be grateful if this alternative location was considered for the proposed development.
Further, at the proposed location a new pipeline will connect the LNG terminal to the Bord Gáis Éireann pipeline network which is approximately 25km to the east of the site. This part of the project is integral to and will cause an inevitable environmental impact which must be considered as part of this application to avoid ‘project splitting' under the EIA Directive 97/11/EC.
Finally, from an energy regulation and planning perspective, we understand that the licensing of this project is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) who must consider and assess an application for a contractual right to link up to the gas network as required by the Gas Acts.
This licence is, however, in no way an environmental/planning consent. We are anxious that your Board might not provide itself with the necessary technical advice to address the full range of policy planning issues raised by this major development.
This is particularly true as residents are concerned that such independent expert advice may not be within their means; it must, therefore, be made available by your authority in the interest of open and transparent decision making.
The rush of development has resulted in many out of scale multiple coastal developments that are visually intrusive and can not be supported by the infrastructure – and no where more so than in the picturesque village of Union Hall in County Cork. Here, ther Council has even given permission for an estate that blocks the long promised ‘relief road’ which would at least help the inevitable traffic congestion that comes with run-away development.
An Bord Pleanala has informed us that the letter relating to this matter previously posted at this location was never received by them.
We apologise to our visitors and to An Bord Pleanala.
Tuesday 16 October, 2007