LANDOWNERS in West Cork have been approached by telecoms giant Eir and offered money to install phone masts on their properties.
The practice, which has come to light in recent months, has caused friction in some communities, where the owners of neighbouring properties are unhappy with the erections.
The masts are made up of a single, thick, straight antenna which dwarfs nearby trees and they have large units mounted at the top.
There are also reports that some farm family units have fallen out over the installations, as not all siblings are in agreement with the erections.
It is believed that significant cash payments have been offered to the landowners by Eir for the installation of the phone masts, which are designed to improve mobile reception in West Cork.
In response to queries from The Southern Star, Eir confirmed the practice but refused to comment on how much money was involved, saying ‘licence terms are confidential to the landowner’.
It added: ‘We are open to work with landowners in areas that need mobile coverage improvements. Depending on the location, a mast could be installed to boost 4G coverage in the surrounding area if that is a requirement, or introduce 5G mobile connectivity.’
It said that over the last year, Eir has ‘actively developed new sites to enhance and resolve mobile coverage blackspots’ across every county in Ireland.
Furthermore, it added, ‘Eir will develop new sites based on a licence agreement with the landowner. Licence terms are confidential to the landowner and Eir will apply for the relevant planning consents as required.’
It said it would ‘welcome interest’ from landowners and would consider ‘all locations’.
Cork County Council told The Southern Star that while it has a policy of supporting telecoms infrastructure and the improvement of high speed connectivity, each development ‘is determined on its own merits’ and would ‘generally’ be required to get planning permission.
There has been significant opposition to 4G and 5G masts in recent years from minority groups who believe they may cause harmful radiation, but the scientific data is, so far, inconclusive.