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Written Answers. - Telecommunications Masts.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 407. Mr. O'Connor Information on Charlie O'Connor Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen  if he intends to introduce legislation to protect communities from telephone masts, temporary or otherwise; if his attention has been drawn to growing concerns in this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24372/02]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Cullen): Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen The erection of all telecommunications masts requires planning permission from the relevant planning authority unless specifically exempted under the Planning and Development Act or Regulations.

In July 1996, my Department issued guidelines for planning authorities on telecommunications antennae and support structures. The purpose of the guidelines was to assist planning authorities, An Bord Pleanála, operators of mobile telecommunications services and the general public by providing guidance on dealing with telecommunications masts and base stations within the planning system. The guidelines now have a specific statutory status under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000. Section 28 provides that planning authorities and An Bord [1156] Pleanála must have regard to any such guidelines in the performance of their functions.

A statement on health and safety aspects which the Department of Health and Children and Department of Public Enterprise, now the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, agreed with my Department, is included as an appendix to the guidelines. Health aspects are dealt with by requiring operators, as part of their planning application, to furnish to the planning authority a statement of compliance with International Radiation Protection Association, IRPA, guidelines.

Arising from concerns that there should be sufficient monitoring to ensure that radiation levels remain below the IRPD limits, my Department has been working with the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to develop a new regime of monitoring. This will ensure that all telecommunication antennae adhere to the strict limits for non-ionising radiation emissions. This regime is now being put in place by the Commission for Communications Regulation.

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