Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Kicked into touch

Interesting case from The Dublin People:

ONE of the Northside’s best-known GAA clubs is on a collision course with its local council and residents over a new floodlighting pylon it has erected at its grounds. St Vincent’s GAA Club in Marino replaced an existing floodlighting pylon in December, with a new larger structure to help accommodate a mobile phone mast and three-metre control box.
Local residents have reacted angrily to the erection of the mast, which they claim is in breach of safety guidelines that recommend phone masts should not be placed beside schools or houses.
And Dublin City Council has already ordered St Vincent’s to remove the new pylon, because it is in breach of strict planning regulations.
St Vincent’s had a planning exemption based on erecting phone antennae on the original pylon, but not for the erection of a new bulkier structure.
The club has been given a month to comply with the request from Dublin City Council, after a letter was sent to it from the local authority’s planning enforcement officer.
However, a spokeswoman for St Vincent’s told Northside People that the club was unaware it had violated any planning rules.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Vodafone, the mobile phone company responsible for the erection of the phone antennae on the pylon, stated that no planning regulations had been broken.
She said Vodafone was very confident of proving this to Dublin City Council and that the new pylon with mast would be retained at the grounds.
Should St Vincent’s and Vodafone’s claims prove successful, it is sure to bring an angry response from residents living beside the club.
Speaking to Northside People, Conor Horgan, from Charlemont, Griffith Avenue, Marino, said the local residents were forming a group to appeal against ‘retention’ permission for the mast, if this is applied for.
Mr Horgan said he was horrified when he noticed the new pylon with the mast going up, without any prior knowledge or consent from local residents.
“The first we knew about this was when we seen the construction equipment arriving,” Mr Horgan stated.
“This new pylon with mast was subsequently erected in a matter of days and is now domineering over our homes.
“From discussions with my neighbours, we are in shock that this could have taken place.”
Mr Horgan said the residents are extremely worried about the possible health implications of having a mast so close to their homes.
The mast is less than 20 metres from the closest houses in Charlemont estate.
Mr Horgan added that following local discussions between neighbours, it was agreed that if St Vincent’s move the mast to their second pitch, which is away from houses, local residents would not object.
Cllr Gerry Breen (FG) supports the residents and brought the issue up with Dublin City Council.
Cllr Breen said the club had no right to go ahead with the new pylon, without first contacting local residents and obtaining the proper planning permission.
The spokeswoman for St Vincent’s said, however, that the club would not have gone ahead with the pylon and mast if the health of local residents was at risk in any way.
“The club did extensive research into the possible risks, including gaining information from Government agencies and relevant health authourities,” she stated.
“We are very confident that this new mast will not pose any health risks to the residents.
“Besides that, we have a very large local juvenile base at the club and if we felt this was posing a risk to them in any way, we would not have gone ahead with it.
“Anyone with concerns can check out the relevant links on our website, paying specific attention in regard to any of the health issues with masts,” she added.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Vodafone said there has been a misconception about what exactly is, and is not, exempt from planning permission under Department of Environment guidelines.
“The guidelines specifically state that a new structure cannot be taller than the original,” she explained.
“The new pylon erected at St Vincent’s is wider than the original but it is not taller and is therefore not in breach of the regulations.
“We are happy to revert back to Dublin City Council in relation to this and are very confident that the new pylon with mast will be retained,” the spokeswoman added.
A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said the council’s Planning Enforcement Officer inspected the new floodlighting pylon and issued a warning letter to St Vincent’s.
“One of the requirements in this letter requires the removal of the unauthorised floodlighting pole together with all fixtures and fittings, including the antennae,” she said.

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