Bronze age remains block broadband plan

THE cyber age’s bid to spread its message into a pristine landscape has perished between a rock and a hard place in a Bronze Age valley.

Age-old archaeological remains are standing in the way of plans to bring modern internet communications to a scenic area of Kerry.

A telecommunications mast which would provide broadband to the mid-Kerry area would be a “new alien intrusion” on a very beautiful and almost pristine landscape.

That’s according to senior An Bord Pleanála inspector, Robert Ryan.

The area around the proposed location for a 12-metre mast at Coomasaharn, Glenbeigh, is “one of the most significant Bronze Age landscapes in the country,” Kerry County Council also conceded.

The local authority noted the Glenbeigh area has the greatest concentration of ancient “rock art” in Ireland, with more than 100 recorded examples.

The Bronze Age dated from around 2200 BC to 500 BC.

Mr Ryan supported the council and upheld a decision to refuse Hutchinson 3G Ireland planning permission for the mast on archaeological grounds.

He also said the mast would damage the visual amenities of the area which is close to the popular Ring of Kerry tourist route.

Hutchinson 3G has the Government’s national contract to roll out broadband to previously unserviced rural areas.

The company claims there is a strong demand for broadband in the Glenbeigh area and no other site options were available.

Glenbeigh is a hotbed of opposition to masts, with objections to five such proposals in the general area.

Hutchinson 3G said that, given there were 67 objections to the current proposal, the possibility of finding another site was limited.

Company spokesman Brian Phelan said they would continue to try to bring broadband to such areas.

“Broadband has the potential to create hundreds of jobs, especially in small to medium-sized businesses, and is probably the most important thing for rural Ireland since rural electrification,” he added.

Normally, An Bord Pleanála overturns Kerry County Council’s decisions in relation to masts because it does not agree with a controversial rule by the council which bans such masts on sites which are within a kilometre of houses, schools and other residential buildings.

On this occasion, however, Bord Pleanála – while still disagreeing with the one-kilometre rule – granted the appeal on grounds of protecting the sensitive landscape and local archaeology.

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