Radio mast sparks outcry
Residents object to meter antenna
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