Buncrana residents object to OPW license for mobile phone antennae on Garda mast

by James Quigley

A public meeting will be held this Thursday, May 2 at 7pm in The Exchange, Castle Ave, Buncrana over a license granted by the Office of Public Works, (OPW) to a mobile phone company, Shared Access, to erect antennae on the existing Garda Siochana mast.

Garda Station, Ardravan, Buncrana

Garda Station, Ardravan, Buncrana

Kim McMenamin, spokesman for Buncrana Garda Mast Action Group called on the community to support them in stopping this potential health hazard. Despite it being a residential area, not far from schools, Community Nursing Unit and town center, a license has been granted for the erection of mobile phone antennae on the existing mast at Buncrana Garda Station. The license has been granted by the OPW to a company called Shared Access and residents have had no say in the planning process since OPW property is somehow exempt.

Mr McMenamin said that no mobile phone masts should be near residential areas because of the adverse health and safety issues and he urges planners to adopt the precautionary principle when it comes to unproven technology and the very serious health warnings from recent independent studies worldwide. In light of these credible studies it is time that all political parties support looking into what is obvious outdated official standards.

According to an OPW official dealing with mobile technology the license was granted in November 2018 to Shared Access for 3G and 4G technology. Buncrana Garda Mast Action Group (BGMAG) are waiting for official reply from OPW over many questions they have about the plan for the mast and Buncrana generally and in relation to the much hyped 5G technology. A member of BGMAG has also submitted a Section 5 Declaration of Exemption to the Donegal Planning Authority.

According to the BGMAG, there is an obvious conflict of interest here. On one hand the Government is making millions of euros from rent to private companies and on the other hand the Government Planning Authority deals with licenses and planning.

Mr McMenamin said many of the neighbours never knew about the plans until last week and they were shocked. They are even more dismayed because they are led to believe that they have no say in the matter. In light of this it will be an uphill struggle and it will need strong community support to force the authorities to change this plan.

BGMAG also appeal to An Garda Siochana, Trade Unions and Health Officials to support them. This development will affect everybody in Buncrana especially workers in concentrated wifi environments, the vulnerable and children.

Shared Access did distribute some leaflets in March but many residents did not get them.

BGMAG is totally against EMF mobile masts anywhere in residential areas whether it is 3G or 4G. However, anyone knows that once the plan is in place, the much more powerful 5G will be next.

If this plan goes ahead Buncrana will have two gigantic mobile masts at each side of the town. There is are existing mobile antennae at the West End area on the ESB mast. These two powerful antennae structures will be beaming radio frequency microwave radiation throughout Buncrana with concentrations in the center.

ESB Mast West End, Buncrana