Vodafone denies it 'hid' phone mast in Navan industrial estate

The update from Co. Meath, Ireland underscores once again Vodafone's talent for storing new--and dodgy--wine (masts) in old bottles (e.g. chimneys).

Informant: Imelda O'Connor

Regional News Section.

"Vodafone denies it 'hid' phone mast in Navan industrial estate

Elaine Keogh

Mobile phone operator Vodafone yesterday denied claims that it hid a mobile phone mast in a makeshift chimney on an industrial estate in Navan. The company said yesterday it will challenge Meath County Council which says the mast does not have planning permission and is illegal.

The council has confirmed it has started enforcement proceedings against the company in relation to the mast that was erected on land owned by mushroom company, Sylvan Ireland, on the Beechmount Industrial estate.

Warning letters have been sent to both the company and Vodafone by the council, giving them four weeks to respond. If the council is not happy with their responses it says it will begin enforcement proceedings, which may include removing the mast.

Protest group Mast Action in Meath (MAIM) has welcomed the council's action and says it will hold a march today.

"We believe this mast, which looks like a 15-metre high aluminium chimney flue, has been here for around three and a half years and none of the workers in the mushroom company or the other surrounding businesses or housing estates knew about it," said Dr Don MacAuley of MAIM.

The group will gather today at lunchtime outside the Townspark housing estate close to the industrial estate, and will distribute leaflets warning of the alleged health risks linked to radiation from such masts.

A meeting of residents who live in three local housing estates heard complaints about headaches. Dr MacAuley says people are concerned about more serious issues, such as leukaemia.

However, Vodafone said yesterday it is fully compliant with the national and international guidelines which govern emissions from masts. "Indeed the emissions from this mast have been tested by a third party and have proved to be thousands of times below the threshold safety levels," a spokeswoman said.

She said the company believes it is fully compliant with the planning regulations in this instance and will be responding to Meath County Council with its position.

"The site in question was acquired in January 2001, and at that time the Planning and Development Act 1963 was in force. Under that Act this type of development is exempt."

She also denied that part of the mast had been concealed inside the chimney so as not to be visible to the public. "The site is not "hidden" - it has been designed to be as unobtrusive as possible as required by the Department of the Environment guidelines."

There was no one available from Sylvan Ireland to comment on the matter yesterday.

© The Irish Times"


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