Cable firms challenge court order to take down mast
A HIGH Court challenge has been brought against an order by Kildare County Council that a telecommunications mast be taken down.
The action centres around a telecommunications mast at Highfield, Newbridge. The council claims the development, which consists of a mast, telecommunications equipment including receivers, antennae and dishes, walls around the site, a free-standing cabinet and a shed, is unauthorised.
In July the council issued an enforcement notice giving the mast’s owners 30 days to remove the development and restore the site to its original state.
Failure to comply with an enforcement order is a criminal offence.
However, Chorus Communication Ltd and UPC Communications Ireland Ltd have brought a High Court challenge aimed at quashing that order on the basis that the development is authorised.
Yesterday lawyers representing the firms told the High Court the enforcement notice was invalid and of no legal effect.
Eamon Galligan SC, for the companies, said that the development was immune from the council’s order because the statutory time limits for enforcement had expired. Several of the structures complained of by the council had been on the site for many years, counsel said.
In addition, the companies claim the enforcement notice is too vague, and the council’s decision to issue the notice is in breach of the 2000 Planning and Development Act.
Mr Galligan said that in 1975 the council granted permission for the erection of a 200ft TV mast, which has twice been reduced and is currently 80ft. Parts of the development were erected well before the current owners acquired the mast.
Counsel said ownership of the development had changed hands on a number of occasions since the mast was erected, and was acquired by Chorus in 1994.
In 2004, Chorus was acquired by Liberty Media. In 2007, Chorus’s assets were transferred to UPC.
Counsel said that while Chorus does not trade it remained as the registered owner of the mast.
In their proceedings Chorus and UPC want the High Court to quash the enforcement notice, which was issued on July 11th last.
The firms are also seeking declarations that the development is immune from enforcement and that the council is not entitled to issue any further enforcement notices in respect of the site.
Permission to bring the challenge was granted at the High Court yesterday by Mr Justice Roderick Murphy.
The application was made ex-parte, where one side only was represented in court.
The judge also granted UPC and Chorus a stay on the enforcement proceedings being acted on until the case is determined by the court. The matter was made returnable to a later date this year.