Vodafone Ireland Ltd is challenging Laois County Council over a development charge of €15,000 to retain a phone mast in the townland of Ballickmoyler.

The 18m high telecommunications structure at Maidenhead has been described by the company as being “vital to Vodafone’s mobile network in the area”.

Vodafone Ireland recently applied for retention of the structure, and was granted permission by the council subject to six conditions.

Among the conditions are that the development must be demolished and removed at operator’s expense upon the eventual removal of structure, and there is to be no material change of use.

A fixed red obstacle light must be fitted to the top of mast, and Vodafone must facilitate antennae for other telecom service providers.

While Vodafone has no objection to these conditions, the company has taken issue with the council’s request for a development contribution of €15,000.

The company has said that original planning permission was granted on the site in July 1998, and this was followed by subsequent retention applications, with contributions totalling €15,414 paid.

“As the development contributions relating to the last retention application were paid in full, Vodafone object to the council attaching a further contribution condition ,” said the company.

Vodafone has now appealed the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanala.