Council’s order to take down mast challenged

A High Court challenge has been brought against Kildare County Council’s order that a telecommunications mast at Highfield, Newbridge, be taken down.

The council claims the development, consisting of a mast, equipment including receivers, antennae, and dishes, is unauthorised.

In July, the council issued an enforcement notice, which gave the mast’s owners 30 days to restore the site to its original state.

Chorus Communication and UPC Communications Ireland have brought a High Court challenge aimed at quashing that order. Lawyers for the firms yesterday told the court the enforcement notice was invalid and of no legal effect.

Eamon Galligan SC, for the companies said, that development was immune from the council’s order because the statutory time limits for enforcement had expired. Several of the structures complained of by the council had been on the site for many years, counsel said.

In addition, it claims the enforcement notice is too vague, and the council’s decision to issue the notice is in breach of the 2000 Planning and Development Act. Counsel said that in 1975 the council granted permission for the erection of a 200ft TV mast, which has twice been reduced and is currently 80ft.

Counsel said parts of the development were erected well before the current owners acquired the mast in 1994. In 2004, Chorus was acquired by Liberty Media. In 2007 Chorus’s assets were transferred to UPC.

Counsel said that while Chorus does not trade, it remained as the registered owner of the mast.

Chorus and UPC want the High Court to quash the enforcement notice, which was issued on Jul 11.

They are also seeking declarations the development is immune from enforcement and the council is not entitled to issue any further enforcement notices in respect of the site.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted at the High Court yesterday by Mr Justice Roderick Murphy. The application was made ex-parte, where one side only was represented in court. The Judge also granted UPC and Chorus a stay on the enforcement proceedings being acted on until the case is determined by the court. The matter was made returnable to a date later this year.

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