Belfast Telegraph

Anger at 'eyesore' phone mast approval in Belfast

By Eamon Sweeney

A controversial application to erect a 60ft communications mast close to a park in north Belfast has been approved by the city council, despite almost 250 objections from local residents.

The application lodged last September by Telefonica, the owners of o2, was verbally approved on Tuesday night by members of the council's Planning Committee.

The mast is to be situated adjacent to Loughside Park on the city's Shore Road.

People in the district lodged 246 objections to its construction, primarily on the basis that radiation emissions from the structure could damage their health.

They also opposed the plan because of the height of the structure, a contention that it would spoil the visual appearance of the area and impact upon the green space, as well as interfering with TV signals.

Journalist Tina Calder, who lives in nearby Fortwilliam and regularly uses Loughside Park, said: I think it's absolutely disgraceful that the very real concerns of local residents have been completely ignored and planning has been agreed.

"Loughside is used by members of the community of all ages.

"To not only spoil what is one of the last remaining green areas along the Shore Road with this eyesore, but to also completely ignore the health implications for those who live nearby and use the recreation space is simply disgusting.

"There are plenty of wasteland areas that this mast could be placed on around the docks nearby and none of them would have implications for health or environmental issues.

"If this mast is erected I will not bring my four-year-old son near the park again."

When the application was lodged in September last year, Stewart Samuel, a member of the Loughside Concerned Residents group, said the mast would be an "eyesore".

However, a report on the application, which also proposes that three equipment cabinets be built beside the mast, rejected the complaints made by those living in and around the site.

The document compiled by the development management officer at Belfast City Council said that the application was accompanied by a declaration from the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation saying that the development fell within the guidelines concerning emissions and did not pose a health risk.

The report also refuted residents' claims that the erection of the mast would visually impair the area and stated that there was no evidence to suggest it would cause interference with television signals.

The council document contended that "high-quality communications infrastructure is essential for economic growth and identifies a need for more efficient telecommunications that will give Northern Ireland a competitive advantage".

Telefonica did not respond to requests for comment.

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