Row over mobile phone mast plans

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PEOPLE opposed to a 22-metre-high mast at an electricity sub-station near their homes should receive photographs of the proposed development in the next few weeks.

A meeting of Durham County Council’s planning committee was told residents near the sub-station in Front Street, Pity Me, had already been written to.

Applicant Northern Powergrid put up a 22-metre pole to represent the mast and took photographs.

“It was my understanding those photographs were also to be sent to residents,” said Coun Mark Wilkes, who does not sit on the committee, but addressed the meeting as a Framwellgate Moor ward councillor.

“There has been problems with the maintenance of this site over the years, and arguably the flats were built too close to it.

“It seems 11 householders have objected to the mast. If the photographs of the mock-up were sent out there might be more objections, or some people might withdraw their objection on seeing them.

“But I do think residents should be given the chance to see the photos so they can decide if they object or not.”

Northern Powergrid says it needs the telecommunications mast to enable communication between its other sub-stations at Gilesgate and Spennymoor to manage supply, and in the event of an emergency.

The mast needs to be 22 metres because the communication must be “line of sight”. Northern Powergrid no longer relies on the BT network because BT will not guarantee instant transmission over its digital network.

Data can be ‘buffered’ during busy times leading to delays, the meeting was told.

Coun John Moran said: “I don’t think we can discuss the application itself until we have sorted out what’s gone on with these photographs.

“If people were promised they would be sent photographs, then they must be. We have to be seen to be doing this right.”

Committee chairman Coun Paul Taylor said the council had fulfilled its statutory obligation to consult with residents by writing to them.

The committee voted seven to one to defer the application to give time for the photographs to be sent to residents.

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