The mast in Durrow being erected in early March. Durrow Development Forum said it was an "eyesore" on their village
A telecoms mast that met strong objection by a Laois community group is now going to be relocated, following discussions with the company that installed it.
Durrow Development Forum and Cignal have agreed that a telecoms pole on the Barn Hill/Kilkenny Road entrance to the village, home to the Scarecrow Festival, will now be relocated.
The 15 metre tall pole went up without warning in early March. They are classed as communications infrastructure on a public road and so do not require planning permission or public notification, but instead are licenced by the local authority.
The installation of the pole on a hill at the entrance to Durrow was met with anger and disappointment from the forum.
"Structurally it is an eyesore on a gateway into our village, a village which has been working over the past number of years to preserve and enhance same as a Heritage and Tourism destination. If Cignal Communications and Laois County Council had communicated with DDF and the community of Durrow, an alternative and more suitable location could have been found". the forum posted online.
Since then several meetings were had between the CEO of Cignal, who lives in Laois, and the forum.
This Wednesday March 20 Cignal made a statement to say a new location is being sought.
"The pole’s purpose is to allow mobile phone and broadband operators offer a higher quality and higher speed service to Durrow residents. The current pole will remain in place until the new location is found to ensure there is no interruption to service delivery.
Evelyn Clancy is Chairperson of the Durrow Development Forum.
“We have had several constructive meetings with Cignal who have been proactive in trying to find a solution that is acceptable to local residents. I am very pleased they have agreed to move the pole to a more suitable location that will not have the visual impact of the current site. We are very aware of the need for better mobile and broadband reception in Durrow, and look forward to this pole helping to deliver better services," she said.
She refuted a suggestion made by Cllr John King in a media interview, for Cignal to make a donation to the Scarecrow Festival if the pole could not be moved.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to rebut a suggestion in a recent local newspaper article that there were discussions in relation to a donation to the DDF to allow the pole to remain in its location. This is untrue and never formed part of our discussions which were solely based on the visual impact of the pole where it currently stands.”
Colin Cunningham is Chief Executive of Cignal.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with the Durrow Development Forum in relation to the location of the pole. We are working hard to find an alternative location that will still be suitable to ensure the pole will improve broadband speeds and mobile phone reception for Durrow residents.
"We have delivered on our commitment to take feedback from the local community seriously, and to work collaboratively to find a mutually acceptable solution. I am grateful for the way the DDF have listened to our explanations and helped us to find a way forward.” he said.
The company has bought 300 existing masts from Coillte and is installing 300 more around Ireland in a €25 million investment to improve mobile and broadband coverage, for use by various service providers.
It is installing ten around Laois, most recently in Mountmellick on Bank Holiday Monday. See story here.