An Bord Pleanála has overturned a local planning authority decision in favour of a telecommunications mast near the M7 at Timoney, Knock.
Tipperary Co Council had refused permission to Three Ireland (Hutchinson) Ltd for the construction of a 27m high telecommunications support structure. The structure is intended to carry antennae and transmission dishes. Associated equipment units, security fencing and an access track are also included in the plan.
Three has stated that the purpose of the development is to provide additional local coverage and capacity to specific sections of the motorway between junction 21 (Borris-in-Ossory) and 22 (Roscrea/Templemore), where coverage and capacity deficiencies are being experienced.
Having received several submissions, the council refused permission on the basis that the proposal would create a traffic hazard and pose a visual obtrusion. An Bord Pleanála’s inspector noted that third party observations were made in relation to risk to health of animals, devaluation of property, capacity of the road, and impact of the access track on local land.
In appealing the council’s decision, Three contended that grounds for refusal were “unreasonable”. The applicant said traffic movements to the site would constitute only two-three trips per year. It said the development would “not seriously injure the visual amenity of the area”. It would be screened with mature hedging and trees, and “views along the motorway will generally be fleeting and intermittent for motorists”.
The applicant stated that its proposal would appear “a slim, pencil-like feature” when compared to the huge turbines at Monaincha Wind Farm, located to the north of the subject site.
“Failure to secure this site will result in coverage issues along the M7 and the local area for the foreseeable future,” An Bord Pleanála was informed.
The council remained opposed to the plan, maintaining that the Three development would be “dominant and visually obtrusive in the receiving landscape”. The council said the submitted photomontages demonstrated that the structure would be visible from the M7. The local planning authority upheld its concern with traffic sightlines.
But after an assessment of the case, An Bord Pleanála’s inspector recommended granting permission for the development. National strategy regarding the improvement of mobile communications services was among the key considerations.
The board thereby granted conditional planning permission to Three. Several of the conditions are geared towards safeguarding the visual amenities of the area.