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Unread 26-01-2006, 10:06   #1
Mark Gleeson
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Default Irish Rail mast row set for High Court

Here we go again, IE are allowed place any mast provided it is required for the safe operation of rail services, if the mast in Ballymote is removed IE may have to suspend services between Boyle and Sligo as full radio coverage is a requirement for driver only operation, without the radio a guard is required and it slows things down as simple things like train ready to start have to be done by phone not by the discrete radio

This is a classic ignorance which has the potential to cause significant disruption to the traveling public not to mention significant capital outlay, its fashionable to object to phone masts which this clearly isn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Times
Irish Rail mast row set for High Court
Marese McDonagh

A long-running row about the erection of a 30-foot mast by Irish Rail at Ballymote railway station in Co Sligo looks set to reach the High Court.

Local Fine Gael TD John Perry yesterday urged Irish Rail to remove the mast following a ruling from An Bord Pleanála that the structure was not exempt from the planning process.

Local people objected strongly last year when the company erected the mast without planning permission at the train station, which is a listed building adjacent to a children's playground and town park.

Sligo County Council initiated enforcement proceedings last year but Irish Rail argued that the structure was exempt from the planning process as its purpose was to provide "safety-critical communications" between train drivers and signalling staff.

An Bord Pleanála's ruling that the mast does require planning permission was welcomed by local independent county councillor Margaret Gormley, who said she was horrified to learn that Irish Rail now intended to spend taxpayers' money on a court challenge.

She pointed out that the council had been forced to refer the matter to An Bord Pleanála because Irish Rail had refused to do so or to accept that it had to have planning permission.

Irish Rail has stressed that there is no health risk attached to the mast, which operates on the UHF system.

The company has repeatedly stated that the mast would not be used by a mobile phone company and insists that it was designed only to assist communications between drivers and signalling staff.
© Irish Times 2006
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ire...M2MASTROW.html

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 26-01-2006 at 11:09.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 11:13   #2
Kevin K Kelehan
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I do know what it is with the engineering department in IE but they seem to have quite an ability to stir things up on issues that are avoidable.

My feeling is that IE should step back from their legal challenge and get into immediate negotiations with Sligo County Council about what they consider to be an appropriate location.

Sligo in return should give IE breathing space of six months to come up with alternative arrangements as the rail service is essential and without compliance with the safety regs there is no rail service.

I feel a certain sympathy for Barry Kenny for being dropped in it again; this is a lose lose situation unless everyone steps back. IE need to appoint a heritage officer on at least a consultancy basis to prevent this type of thing happening again.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 11:19   #3
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I hate this stuff. People hear mast and think health risks. People like our councillor friend should not be allowed to bring people to court until they understand the issue. I can only assume she does not use TV or radio. These use the dreaded UHF too.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 11:37   #4
Kevin K Kelehan
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It is IE who are bringing this to the High Court not the locals; they will argue that the mast is exempted development under legislation that frmaes what rail based activities are exempted from the planning process.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 12:02   #5
Mark Gleeson
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To be fair if IE didn't go to court someone else would and could shut the whole show. It is a UHF system on channel 61 I think. The technology has been in use in Ireland since 1983 and for example Dun Laoghaire station has a mast, Dun Laoghaire is a protected structure and there is a hospital up the road, the mast has been replaced twice over the last 22 years, no issues to my knowledge

It reminds me of the farce in Foynes where the local council tried to turn the line into protected structure thus making it impossible for IE to perform any maintenance

It sounds more like someone looking to create a profile for the upcoming election that someone who really cares, don't see them complaining about the crap trains they now are using on Dublin Sligo. The mast locations are not picked at random they are spaced to minimise the number needed and are generally located alongside other signalling equipment, indeed the Ballymote mast would also cover a section of the abandoned northern chunk of the WRC......
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Unread 26-01-2006, 12:02   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin K Kelehan
It is IE who are bringing this to the High Court not the locals; they will argue that the mast is exempted development under legislation that frmaes what rail based activities are exempted from the planning process.
The mast causes no health risks that a normal radio does not. Sometimes practicallity has to come first. This is one of them. I am no supporter of IE but this one is not their fault.

If IE do not need Planning permission for safety equipment, as both they and Mark have stated, then this should be let die. The fact that they mention park & playground means that their motive for complaint is health. This poses no health risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson
indeed the Ballymote mast would also cover a section of the abandoned northern chunk of the WRC......
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Unread 26-01-2006, 12:25   #7
Kevin K Kelehan
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I think that your view is very simplistic on this Paul; IE can they claim prove that there is A no health risk and B that it is exempted development; they could have submitted a planning application with the benefit of all information available to them so as that the locals could read first hand what is proposed.

This is what they should do as opposed to taking it to the High Court; I am sure that all institutions will take account of the necessity for telecommunication service and as it is a retention application it will preclude An Bord Pleanala taking action against IE whilst the application is under consideration.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 13:14   #8
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It is a UHF tower. People think mast and think cancer. This is not the case. Look at what Mark wrote, similar towers used every where by IE. Again look at what Mark wrote they don't need PP for radio towers for rail safety. The problem here is raised by a load of NIMBY biddys who do not understand this radio frequencies. The only 'simplistic' view is that a communications tower shouldn't be allowed.

My God I sound like 'another' P11 member.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 14:26   #9
Mark Gleeson
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While IE can stick a mast where they like more or less they are well known for pushing the envelope and hiding behind the generous legal framework they have

The mast is required for the safe and efficient operation of the railway, instructions to pass a signal at danger may be given by radio
The mast is a standard IE CTC radio mast in use since the early 1980's
It is a UHF system

It appears the only reason Sligo CC managed to even get this far because the complaint was filled 29/6/2005 and Sligo CC made Ballymote station a proposed Protected Structure with effect from July 30th, if the mast had be in place on July 29th the case wouldn't exist. Its strange that a complaint filed in June rests on an action in July

A vast number of these masts have appeared in recent years and this is the only one to cause trouble

If IE roll over and apply for retention they have given the game away, we have a test case, IE lose and you can add a few years to the completion of mini CTC elsewhere which will put safety at risk
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Unread 26-01-2006, 14:33   #10
Kevin K Kelehan
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The facts do not display any evidence of what you are saying;

Facts:

1> Communications tower errected
2> Bord Pleanala rule it requires planning permission
3> IE going to the High Court to challenge ABP

If IE are proven correct it will take years and a couple of €m earned by lawyers having 5 grand days beofre it gets resolved.

Alternative scenario

IE submit a planning application comprising

1> Existing drawings used for the construction
2> Established safety research proving it is harmless
3> A legal opinion that the development never required PP in the first instance
4> Letters from the Department of the Environment and DoT that it is ministerial policy to have a railway in the region.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 14:41   #11
Mark Gleeson
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Here is where it gets really strange

Sligo CC lodged there complaint 29-06-2005
The mast was errected after the 30-07-2005

Work that one out ?

http://www.pleanala.ie/data1/searchl...0&search.y= 0
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Unread 26-01-2006, 15:05   #12
Kevin K Kelehan
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Either a leak or prep work before the mast was errected.

Looking at the ruling it would be difficult to challenge through the Courts;

However if they move the mast to just outside the curtilage of the protected structure the exemption resumes.

Sligo politicians have a tradition of declaring buildings protected structures to stop particular developments; ABP have to make their calls in accordance with the acts regardless of the motivation.

I really feel that building another mast just outside the cuirtilage is the easiest way forward; no local councillor will back IE at the expense of their voter base. Going to court would prove slow and expensive a new mast could be up in a matter of months with the equipment transfered over the course of a weekend from the existing mast to another and the new one would not require planning permission.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 16:29   #13
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IE probably have a reason for not moving it. They most likely have looked at this from a technical perspective and note that they do NOT need PP for their radio towers. It is obviously in their interests to go to court over moving it. However this is Ireland a misunderstanding of radio frequencies, local politics and a desire to stay in the 1940s will probably win out at the expense of rail safety.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 16:35   #14
Kevin K Kelehan
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Paul,

The probability of overturning Bord Pleanala is about 5% they more than anyone know planning law their status is equivelent to the High Court under the 1976 Local Government Act. The last time I can remember them losing is the Kinsale Case in 2002 where it was held in the Supreme Court that a particular condition was ultra vires. To get this to the Supreme Court would take 2 years and €2m errecting another mast would take three weeks and ??? Mark
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Unread 26-01-2006, 17:06   #15
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Right I'm board of arguing.

You are 100% right.

This is nothing to do with the radio mast and bad press of mobile telecoms masts (though the councillor stated this was a fear).

Irish rail do need PP for masts and had to get it for every sight.

Heritage groups & local councillors understand about radio frequencies and vantage points better than telecoms engineers.

It is good to hold back development where ever possible even for a radio mast and should be done at the expense of the state.

There is no NIMBY-ism in Ireland.

Happy?
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Unread 26-01-2006, 17:11   #16
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Detention complete

Last edited by Kevin K Kelehan : 27-01-2006 at 10:40.
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Unread 26-01-2006, 21:35   #17
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Take the fcukin railway off them. No more radio mast problems-sorted
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Unread 26-01-2006, 23:04   #18
Derek Wheeler
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Kevin, Paul,......my office, now!

Detention
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Unread 27-01-2006, 00:36   #19
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People are totally unreasonable and irrational about all sorts of communications masts.

UHF has been in use for many decades to broadcast TV signals and for various other marine uses. There's nothing unusual about it and it's certainly not a health risk unless you plan on holding grabbing hold of the cables supplying the mast and making sure that your bare feet make good contact with the ground! RTE have many many similar installations all over the country. Their major transmission sites would output vastly more powerful UHF signals than anything that IE would ever use.

As for the anti-mobile phone mast campaigners - as yet there has been absolutely no proven case of any health risks whatsoever associated with GSM masts/towers. The ironic thing is that the more GSM infrastructure in place, the better the signal and the lower the power of the output of your mobile phone handset. E.g. if you're in an urban area with excellent coverage, your battery will last longer and you will be exposed to far lower doses of microwaves than if you're in an area with poor infrastructure and low signals as your handset will have to use brute force (powerful signals) to reach the base stations.

Also, all of these protests about powerlines just annoy me. 50Hz AC powerlines have been in use for a considerably long time. People who have spent entire lives working with these systems have absolutely no higher risk of cancers than anyone else has. If there was a risk of cancer don't you think ESB linesmen would be a cancer cluster? Not to mention that your TV, microwave, hairdryer, and electric blanket output much higher field strengths at close range... and your entire house has wires all humming away at 50hz burried in the walls, floors and ceilings.

If you want to reduce your cancer risks perhaps start looking at real problems like uncontrolled burning of plastics in back yard fires. Using excessive amounts of nasty volitile chemicals to clean and fragrance your home... not to mention smoking etc etc

Being a live has a cancer risk attached. Cells occasionally go nuts ... it's a risk we run and it's how we evolved! Let IE put up the damn masts ... it'd be far better to have safe trains than getting freaked out about the percieved (yet non existant) cancer risk associated with the transmitter!
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