A RULE in Kerry that does not allow telecommunications masts within 1km of houses, schools and other residential buildings will delay the roll-out of broadband in rural areas of the county, county manager Tom Curran has warned.
The national plan is to have broadband in all rural areas by September 2010, but the 1km rule is likely to impede the installation of high-speed internet access in many parts of Kerry by Hutchinson 3G Ireland Ltd, known as 3.
A total of 28 high sites for masts have been identified in Kerry, 17 existing and 11 new. Planning permission will be needed for the new sites, but will be refused because of the rule, Mr Curran pointed out.
"It will be necessary for 3 to appeal our decision to An Bord Pleanála if they are to fulfil the terms of their contract," he told a council meeting in Tralee.
He said the long process "will mean Kerry will be one of the last counties to get broadband in rural areas, putting residences and businesses at a disadvantage".
Fine Gael councillor Johnny O’Connor felt it was time to get rid of the rule, as it put Kerry at the end of the queue for broadband.
Independent councillor Brendan Cronin said local communities "will appeal anyway, as they are opposed to masts".
Independent councillor Michael Healy-Rae did not feel the rule should be the reason for delays.