An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to Vodafone to retain two masts at Moll’s Gap, a well-known viewing area and stop-off point between Killarney and Kenmare.
Kerry County Council had refused planning under a controversial rule in its county development plan which bans masts within 1km of residential buildings or buildings used in the course of daily work.
Another reason given by the council for rejecting the Vodafone application was that masts interfere with the natural beauty of the area.
The board generally dismissed the 1km rule as grounds for refusing planning, with its inspector in the Moll’s Gap case describing the rule as unrealistic and contrary to existing policies and guidelines.
The elevated masts’ site, which is in Killarney National Park, commands extensive views across a vista of rugged landscape, including the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the Black Valley, and the Lakes of Killarney.
An Taisce asked that temporary planning be allowed for five years as the site is in a sensitive area of outstanding landscape on the Ring of Kerry.
Vodafone said the facility provides essential telecommunications coverage in the area.
The board’s inspector said that as the masts and equipment had been in the area for many years, their retention “would not be a significant additional element’’ in the landscape.
The location of the Avoca shop and restaurant was the reason for the council’s refusal as it was within 1km of the masts. But it was pointed out that the business operated on a seasonal basis.
Though the masts are located in an EU-designated Special Area of Conservation, the inspector said the development would not have a significant affect on the site.
The inspector was satisfied the retention was generally acceptable in terms of visual amenity. The board generally agreed with the inspector’s recommendations and granted planning for 10 years, subject to seven conditions.
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