4
Aug
2005

DELIGHT AS MAST DECISION IS DELAYED

The Western Gazette Somerset

15:00 - 28 July 2005

Residents fighting a company's plans to make additions to a telecommunications mast near their homes say they are encouraged by a decision to delay the application. West Dorset District Council planning official Andrew Jordan had supported the proposal by NTL Broadcast to add two vertical polls to the present 17.8-metre high mast in Stonebarrow Lane, Charmouth.

The application to the district council, on behalf of O2 Airwave, is for the installation of Tetra, a nationwide communications system for the emergency services.

However, members of the council's development control west committee meeting decided last Thursday to defer the decision because of a lack of technical information regarding the possible effect on TV reception if the permanent Tetra station gets the go-ahead.

Councillor Ian Gardner's proposal that the committee makes a site visit before any decision was made was also supported by the councillors.

Residents were furious at plans to make the additions to the mast, which they have been fighting to have moved.

They formed an action group STAMP - Stonebarrow Against Mast Proximity - to battle for the mast to be shifted away from their homes.

They claim it is a blot on the landscape in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the World Heritage Coast.

The residents confronted the planners at the packed meeting and suggested an alternative site for the entire mast further up the lane, which they claim is technically and visually superior to the present one.

STAMP member Barbara Collins said: "This application has completely failed to look at the alternative site, it is in an incredibly sensitive location, near an area of outstanding natural beauty and on the World Heritage Coast."

Stonebarrow residents' association chairman Phillip Morgan-Smith said: "We also suffer a lot from the noise of the cooling fans located alongside the mast. At a different location these would not be so near the houses."

One resident read a letter from her seven-year-old son. He said: "Dear Mr Jordan I love the countryside and the area where I live, but this mast is very ugly.

"My mum and dad said there is a better place it can be moved to and I hope you will move it there."

But Mr Jordan told councillors Government guidelines meant that mast sharing should be utilised in order to limit the proliferation of additional masts within the countryside, unless other material reasons outweigh such a consideration.

"Such consideration is limited to the visual assessment of the development. As stated, the visual impact is considered to be acceptable and there is no material justification for the mast sharing policy to be overridden."

Mr Jordan also reminded councillors they were not there to look into alternatives, but decide on that application on its merits.

Speaking afterwards, resident Ali Cameron said: "It is a step in the right direction I am pleased the councillors could see our problem and were keen to address the issues and not just sweep it through."
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