Village plea for mast to be relocated

Former Teagasc Advisor and Kilrickle resident BERNIE LEAHY outlines in this article the concerns and fears of the local community over the erection of a telecommunications mast right in the heart of their picturesque village. 

KILRICKLE, or Kilreekill, is named after St Patrick’s sister, Reekil, according to folklore and early Christian records. Nowadays, it is a sleepy country village oozing with the charm of bygone days.

However, all that was to change by 10am on Ash Wednesday, February 14 this year, when this mast was erected, destroying the visual amenity value of the village that Tidy Village Committee and local residents have diligently worked at for the last few years.

Planning permission notice for the proposed telecommunication mast was observed at the Kilrickle Eir substation by a resident in the village in April 2021.

Covid restrictions  meant  nobody could get access to the mast plans at Galway County Council Offices until April 7, which meant that the full five weeks to lodge an objection was denied.

Planning permission was granted to Towercom to erect an 18 metre mast by May 2021.  No reference was made by Galway County Council in the Planning Permission conditions to the fact that a petrol tank was still in place in the substation.

The tank was removed to environmental standards by Towercom almost one year after planning permission was granted. An appeal to An Board Pleanála was invalid as it was received after deadline date 8th June 2021.

Parents and staff at Kilrickle National School are astounded that such a development could take place within 120 metres of the school.

Some have threatened to take their children out of the school if the mast is completed in its present location because of health concerns.

Towercom has insisted that independent monitoring of ionising radiation is to be carried out when the mast is complete as is routine. For the three dwellings within five to ten metres of the mast these checks are not reassuring. The preferred option is relocation.

A total of 140 Eir substations have leases of up to 150 years with developers such as Towercom, according to outgoing FG TD Kieran Cannon. In line with the County Development Plan, rural connectivity is a priority for the Government.

The original mono-pole structures are now being replaced in situ. On these new masts the more satellite dishes positioned the more lucrative the investment. Each satellite dish can earn up to €150,000 per dish I have been informed.

Local County Councillors and TDs have been contacted and the party line is that  all these telecommunication improvements are, ‘State backed’.

Pictured: Local residents pictured in front of the new telecommunications mast which was erected earlier this year in Kilrickle.    

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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