Tuesday, July 14, 2020

By Elizabeth Lee

LOCAL residents in Kiltegan have lodged submissions with Wicklow County Council to object to a proposed telecommunications mast being erected right in the middle of the village.

Communications company Eir Ltd lodged a planning application with the council proposing to put up a 15.7-metre mast along with associated antennae and ground equipment at a site that it owns in the picturesque village. Eir already has a telephone exchange there, but the company wants to add the mast to improve its service in the area.

Local people voiced their objections to the project and practically all of the residents on Main Street and many others in the village and beyond sent in submissions objecting to it.

Two of the objectors are TJ Maher and Simon Kirby, who live on Main Street and who own the award-winning Patthana Gardens. Like many of the other dissenters, they argue that the application is not in keeping with the historic and aesthetic values of the village, which is also home to Humewood Castle.

Other objections to the mast are that it doesn’t comply with the local development area plan, it would dominate the village and that it would devalue property. Residents are also concerned about health implications and about noise pollution.

They also feel that it was unfair of the communications giant to make the application to Wicklow County Council when the country was in lockdown, so they couldn’t travel to Wicklow to view the plans at first hand. Neither did they have a chance to organise a campaign against the proposal because they couldn’t hold a public meeting.

People are very upset about this, everyone on the Main Street is objecting,” TJ Maher told The Nationalist. “The mast is so tall, it’ll soar above the houses here and they want to put it between two old buildings. It’s our street; this is where we live and we have a right to object. This happened during Covid lockdown, so we had no opportunity to travel to Wicklow town to see the application, nor could we have a meeting to organise a campaign against it.”

In response to queries from The Nationalist, Eir said that the pandemic illustrated the need for people to have good mobile coverage and said that they needed to upgrade their site in the village because the signal is being blocked by trees.

Our existing mobile site in Kiltegan is located on a chimney in the town, is significantly blocked by trees. Unfortunately, this site cannot support the upgrade plans for 4G service. As a result, Eir has sought planning permission for a slimline 15m site co-located with the local telephone exchange to specifically enhance 4G voice and data service in the town. This location is ideally suited to enhance service in Kiltegan and the slimline site at only 15m is designed to clear local tree clutter for the town.”
The company also said that there operations were in line with all safety rules and regulations, and so there were no health issues associated with their mast or services.
“Eir is a licensed mobile operator and all sites are designed to comply with international guidelines defined by ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) there are no health concerns or issues for Eir mobile sites. As part of our investment in our mobile network, Eir is focussed on improving 4G network coverage for our customers. The COVID-19 health restriction has highlighted the importance of good mobile service to ensure we stay connected. This investment in Kiltegan will bring significant improvements in service for the local community.”

Wicklow County Council is due to make its decision on the proposal by 27 July.

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