Gerry Gannon's wife challenges bigger mast near Leitrim property

A number of properties owned by Mr Gannon which were legally transferred to his wife Margaret in 2009 around the time of the economic crash
Gerry Gannon's wife challenges bigger mast near Leitrim property

High Court reporters

Margaret Gannon, the wife of well-known developer Gerry Gannon, is seeking to bring a High Court challenge over the granting of permission for a larger telecommunications mast near a property she owns in Co Leitrim.

Hatley Manor, St George's Terrace, Carrick-on-Shannon, was one of a number of properties owned by Mr Gannon which were legally transferred to his wife Margaret in 2009 around the time of the economic crash.

She is seeking to bring judicial review proceedings against An Bord Pleanála over the granting of permission to Vodafone to extend the height of an existing mast at St George's Terrace.  The application was adjourned until later this week.

Mrs Gannon, of Dublin Road, Sutton, Dublin, says she is concerned about the mast in relation to the "architectural integrity of the town" which includes her Hatley Manor property.

This is a detached two-storey over-basement house built by the St George family around 1830 and part of an architecturally-significant group of structures in the town.

These buildings, along with the Costello Chapel and McCann Memorial Clock, are all protected structures, she says.

Mast height

Mrs Gannon says it appears the original mast was built without planning permission on the basis it amounted to exempted development.

She says what is now proposed is extremely unclear but it appears the height of the mast is going to be very significantly increased. It also appears additional antennae will be located on the higher section of the mast, she says.

She says important and critical information which should have been lodged with the planning application was not provided.

She does not know whether the existing structure will be taken down and replaced. There is "complete confusion" as to how the development is to be carried out, she says.

Both Leitrim County Council and An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission. The council and Vodafone are notice parties in her proceedings.

Mrs Gannon says insofar as the board inspector's report refers to the Habitats Directive, there is no proper screening for appropriate assessment under this directive.

The site is located very close to the edge of the River Shannon and it is difficult to understand "how one could not even identify the range of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) which had the potential to be affected by the hydrological connection" between these and the mast site, she says.

Pollution potential

The board inspector decided there would be no emissions from the development but Mrs Gannon says that was "completely wrong". The general site development works will all have very significant potential to cause serious pollution to the river and downstream SACs, she claims.

She says the area where Hatley Manor is located, along St George's Terrace, is "extraordinarily important in architectural terms".

To her "great shock and surprise" there appears to have been no consideration of the immediately affected structures of the Chapel and the Clock. In planning terms this is a really significant issue because of the adverse visual impact of antenna support structures beside these important architectural buildings, she says.

She also says the board inspector completely misinterpreted ministerial guidelines in relation to the siting of masts, which is that they should only be located in a residential area as a last resort.

The board also decided not to impose any time limitation for the mast, did not consider health implications, radiation or other impacts from what will be an entirely different structure to what is there now, she says.

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