LEITRIM COUNTY Council is to ask Minister for the Environment John Gormley to introduce legislation outlawing the construction of telecommunications masts within 500m of houses and schools.
Members of the council were furious at An Bord Pleanála’s decision to give the go-ahead to 3G Ireland for two 30m masts at Aughacashel and Carrigallen.
Following legal advice, council members voted not to pursue a court challenge against the planning board’s decision on the two masts, which they felt breached the county development plan.
Leitrim county manager Jackie Maguire told councillors at a specially convened meeting that the council’s legal advice was that it did not have a case.
Fianna Fáil councillor Francis Gilmartin said it appeared the county development plan was merely “aspirational” and that the planning appeals board was not bound by it. After being informed they did not have legal basis to seek a judicial review, 16 councillors voted not to pursue the challenge while three voted to proceed with it.
Mr Gilmartin said the council would appeal to every local authority and to all TDs and Senators to join them in lobbying Mr Gormley to amend the legislation so masts could not be built within 500m of schools or houses.
“He is a Green Minister so I think he should do this. He has done a lot of things I would not agree with – as far as I am concerned human safety is a lot more important than bats or hares,” said Mr Gilmartin.
He said he knew many people were annoyed with him and his party colleagues for not pursuing the court challenge, “but there is no point asking for legal advice and then ignoring it”.
A spokesman for 3G Ireland insisted there were no safety risks, and the “non-ionizing radiation” was equivalent to that emitted by a baby monitor.