Residents have raised grave concerns over plans to erect a 5G mast in Tandragee.
A proposal, lodged by the Cornerstone network, for the 22.5m telecommunications column just off the Mullavilly Road, on the site of Rapid International, had been recommended for approval on Wednesday evening.
However, a number of strong objections were heard in the council chamber prompting the planning committee to delay their decision until after members had undertaken a site visit.
Jamie McDonald, speaking on behalf of a number of residents, argued that they have had the quality of their life negatively impacted with the decision to erect a wind turbine – dubbed the ‘Mullavilly Monster’ – in the same area in 2010, stating it “failed to harmonise with our surroundings which has had lasting consequences, including the a detrimental effect on the mental health of some of the Church View residents”.
He added: “We now face a proposal on this same site which threatens to exacerbate an already problematic situation…we strongly believe this mast will further compromise the visual appeal of our cherished area”.
Residents also cited concerns over the site selection process, arguing that there is a bounty of agricultural land elsewhere which could have been chosen.
Lord Mayor, Alderman Margaret Tinsely, who is not a member of the planning committee, spoke at the meeting outlining her objections.
She raised concerns over the safety of masts; not only on the application before the committee but in general, and one in particular outside a school in Lurgan.
Said Alderman Tinsley: “I do share the concerns of residents and I would like someone to clarify to me in black and white terms that these masts are actually safe. As members of the planning committee, are you truly convinced these masts are safe? If you have any doubts or concerns would you please request a presentation from the governing body to answer the concerns of our constituents?
“Absolutely no-one objects to these masts if they don’t live within the locality of one being erected. However, if one was being erected outside your home, would you be satisfied for the health and safety of your own family?
“I would therefore urge the planning committee to put any mast applications on hold and that a letter be sent to the governing body requesting they attend a meeting where councillors can put their questions to them and alleviate the concerns of our constituents.
“And I genuinely do not believe that this is an unreasonable request. If everything is safe, then the public fears should then be satisfied and we as public representatives will have more confidence in supporting these applications.”
Les Ross, of Les Ross Planning, said there was a strong demand for the service and therefore a need for more masts especially as the rollout of 5G continues.
He said: “If you were looking for a perfect site I believe this would be it….we looked at other sites but none were as good as this.”
Alderman Gareth Wilson urged the committee to conduct a site visit in order to better understand the concerns of residents. The proposal, seconded by Councillor Kyle Moutray, was agreed upon by the whole committee.
A decision will be put on hold until that visit is carried out.