Ra­dio mast sparks out­cry

Res­i­dents ob­ject to me­ter an­tenna

The Galloway News - - GALLOWAY VIEW - Stephen Nor­ris

The prospect of a 40-foot ra­dio an­tenna in the mid­dle of Gatehouse of Fleet has sparked out­rage from lo­cal res­i­dents.

Te l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s in­fra­struc­ture firm WHP Tele­coms want to in­stall the mast at the River Fleet bridge in the town’s west end.

Two equip­ment cab­i­nets on con­crete plinths would also be sited on the pave­ment across from the Ship Inn.

The in­stal­la­tion is part of UK Gov­ern­ment’s Smart Me­ter­ing Net­work ( SMN) pro­gramme which re­quires ra­dio an­ten­nae to au­to­mat­i­cally read smart elec­tric­ity and gas me­ters in homes and busi­nesses.

WHP, on be­half of clients Ar­giva, has asked Gatehouse Com­mu­nity Coun­cil for a re­sponse be­fore seek­ing plan­ning ap­proval from Dum­fries and Gal­loway Coun­cil.

The com­mu­nity coun­cil is fu­ri­ous about the vis­ual im­pact on Gatehouse of Fleet Con­ser­va­tion Area and has sug­gested a site at a tele­phone ex­change and broad­band box near the Lau­rieston junc­tion as an al­ter­na­tive.

Re­sponse forms have been placed in the Gal­loway Lodge and Gatehouse Store for peo­ple to give their views.

Sec­re­tary He­len Keat­ing said: “One per­son wrote ‘What next – a wind­farm in Gar­ries Park?’

“We are not happy. Any peo­ple I have spo­ken to are hor­ri­fied and they can’t be­lieve it.

“Com­ing up from the west end there’s a lovely view up to the An­gel Ho­tel, yet there’s to be this great big pole stuck in the mid­dle of it.”

She added: “With Gatehouse be­ing a con­ser­va­tion area and listed houses all around, why are they be­ing al­lowed to do this?

“We un­der­stand that it would be the eas­i­est site but aes­thet­i­cally it would be a dis­as­ter.

“It is such a prom­i­nent cor­ner, viewed by vis­it­ing tourists as they en­ter the town.”

WHP Tele­coms prin­ci­pal plan­ner Damian Hosker said: “I have vis­ited the site so I know it well.

“I have re­sponded to Gatehouse Com­mu­nity Coun­cil as we have de­ployed many, many of these not only in con­ser­va­tion ar­eas but na­tional parks, SSSIs, AONBs and nu­mer­ous other sen­si­tive lo­ca­tions across the UK.

“These mi­cro poles are ex­tremely low pow­ered and have to be in the heart of the com­mu­nity that they are aim­ing to ser­vice.

“This is not a mo­bile phone in­stal­la­tion but only a mi­cro smart me­ter pole, 10cm di­am­e­ter at the top and 20cm at the base.

“I have, how­ever, raised their con­cerns with the client.”

Mrs Keat­ing said the plan ran counter to Dum­fries and Gal­loway Coun­cil’s Gatehouse of Fleet Con­ser­va­tion Area char­ac­ter ap­praisal.

It states: “The char­ac­ter of the area could be threat­ened by in­ju­di­cious devel­op­ment.

“Un­nec­es­sary or in­ap­pro­pri­ately styled new street fur­ni­ture that could be­come in­tru­sive vis­ual clut­ter should not be in­tro­duced.”

A Dum­fries and Gal­loway Coun­cil spokesper­son said: “Ap­par­ently WHP Tele­coms are cur­rently erect­ing masts and have said they don’t need per­mis­sion.”

Sold Patsy Gil­roy with the Jimmy Carr bar which will be at the Knock­en­gor­roch Fes­ti­val, in­set, at Car­sphairn this week­end

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