Residents rocked by plan for rugby mast

by Emma Nolan
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RESIDENTS in close proximity to Blackrock College Rugby Football Club are objecting to permission sought by Vodafone to install a mast on the club grounds.
Local resident Barbara Culleton has likened the health hazards associated with such masts to the dangers of smoking and sports injuries.
The proposed structure is described in the application as a “monopole that will carry associated antennas and dish, existing floodlights, associated equipment and proposed equipment cabinet in secure compound”.
It will affect residents of Stradbrook Road, Wynberg Park, Brook Court and Windsor Park.
Speaking to The Gazette, Barbara, who is a member of the Wynberg Park/Gleann na Smol Residents’ Association, said that as the general population were once advised that smoking was not harmful, the same is now being said of telecommunications masts, which she fears could see long-term health problems for those living close to one.
To date, 16 objections have been made against the proposal.
Many of the objections cite the proposed mast’s proximity to 500 houses, two creches and a secondary school. They also cite concerns over possible health hazards, such as “anxiety, mental health and quality of life that this structure will cause on children and families”.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council cannot give consideration to health issues when making a decision on the installation of a monopole for antennae, something that Barbara said she and fellow residents were “horrified” to learn.
The residents’ association also outlined to The Gazette their previous grievances with the club’s installation of “intrusive” flood lights on the grounds.
The chairman of Blackrock College RFC, Frank O’Riordan, says that he hasn’t yet been presented with a “deeply credible” argument.
While he maintained that the club “deeply respects” the views of the residents, he responded to their concerns, telling The Gazette that the club will generate income from what is “essentially putting a mast on top of an existing light structure”.
He said that the income that will be generated from the mast is “very important to us as we owe money to the bank”.
He added: “The residents have accepted that health and safety is not a ground for objection, but they still have some concerns about the loss in value of their properties, in view of the antenna.
“We have given them evidence of many sports clubs that have similar approaches.”
On health and safety concerns, he said a “substantial part of the club [are] the minis and youth section, and we wouldn’t be doing anything if we felt there were health and safety issues associated with [the mast].”
Referencing the financial benefits to club from the mast, Barbara said that she understands the financial difficulties, “but why should the unknown, and as yet unproven, consequences to everyone’s health be put at risk for the sake of a particular sports club balancing its books?”

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