Taoiseach also objects to S254 application at Roselawn

by Rose Barrett
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Leo Varadkar

Rose Barrett

Cllr John Walsh (Lab, Dublin West) has criticised the current statutory process for approval of telecommunications infrastructure, including phone masts, under Section 254 of the Planning and Development Act as secretive and undemocratic. 

Cllr Walsh is speaking after Fingal County Council approved the erection of a mast, at the junction of the residential Delwood and Roselawn Roads in Castleknock, which An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar is also objecting to.

Mr Varadkar stated the mast “would be a hindrance to motorist visibility at this busy junction,” and suggested  were “many alternative locations in the area on commercial and other premises which would be more suitable”.

“Unfortunately, licence applications for ‘overground telecommunications infrastructure’ on public roads may be made without putting up a site notice and without any notice to residents,” said Cllr Walsh.

“Applications for mobile phone masts are treated in the same way as proposals for outdoor seating by a restaurant or pub – the Government has allowed companies seeking licences for phone masts to evade the planning system! This is not right,” he fumed.

“While a Section 254 licence is required for a mast, the works are exempt from planning permission and this avoids the formal process of notice and scrutiny which is part of the planning system. This legal position is undemocratic and creates a situation where masts may be built without any notice to local communities.”

Cllr Walsh referred to a recent application for a telecommunications mast approved by Fingal County Council at the junction of Roselawn and Delwood Road in Dublin 15.

“Residents had no idea that this was under consideration until after the decision was made. I made an appeal to An Bord Pleanála challenging this decision: the location of the proposed mast is contrary to government guidance which recommends co-location of such infrastructure.

“But more importantly, it is dangerous, as the 15 metre streetpole would be located on a corner where there have been previous road traffic accidents. Submitting this appeal was the only way to open up a four-week consultation period which allowed residents an opportunity to have their say.”

However, in response, a spokesperson for Fingal County Council stated:

““Fingal County Council is fully transparent in its assessment and determination of section 254 licences in accordance with all relevant statutory provisions. In addition, the Section 254 process and all applications and decisions regarding these types of licences are available to view on the Fingal website – Fingal.ie”.

Walsh added: ‘It is not good enough for senior ministers to object to local applications, but leave the secretive system of approvals in place. I am calling on the Government to amend the Planning and Development Act to ensure that applications for telecommunications infrastructure are made subject to planning permission.

“This is the only way to ensure transparency and public scrutiny of these applications,” he concluded.

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