Outrage as mast ruling overturned

Residents had objected to a mast being erected at this spot in Balerno
Residents had objected to a mast being erected at this spot in Balerno
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TWO mobile phone giants have defeated the council in their bid to erect a controversial mast on the outskirts of the Capital.

Councillors rejected the application from Vodafone and O2 last summer to build the 15-metre pole in Balerno, to the delight of local campaigners.

But that decision has been overturned by the Scottish Government, following an appeal by the companies, and work will go ahead this year.

The overruling of the city council has baffled politicians and locals, but Vodafone said it had to be allowed to construct masts if customers wanted a decent mobile phone signal.

Conservative councillor for the Pentlands Alastair Paisley said: “It’s disappointing the Scottish Government reporter has ignored the feelings of the local community of this.

“If we don’t listen to the local people, it almost makes a planning committee pointless.

“People do have concerns about these masts and emissions from them.”

In and around the village has been a popular target for mobile phone companies, with local organisations well practised in opposing them.

When this application was lodged in early 2011 it was met by an instant objection by Balerno Community Council.

Despite those fears, the mast will be built on a footway just to the north of Lanark Road West.

As well as the 15-metre high monopole – providing services for Vodafone and O2 – there will be one ground cabinet.

It will tower over nearby street lights, and the local authority’s criticism of the green and grey colours has also been dismissed.

Ian Hynd, director of the Balerno Village Trust, said the move demonstrated the lack of input local residents had on decisions in their area.

He said: “We believe that too often decisions are made by the Scottish Government or the council and they are not necessarily good for the village.

“We’ve also not had much in the way of communication during the appeal.”

Holyrood’s planning reporter David Buylla said the companies had chosen the most feasible site in the area

He said: “The determining issue is the impact of the development on the character and appearance of the area.

“The proposed pole would be considerably taller and rather thicker than nearby street lighting columns.

“However, it is not necessary for a telecommunications installation to precisely replicate other streetscape furniture in order for it to harmonise with them.”

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said: “We are pleased the planning reporter has found in our favour.

“If we are to provide a service for local people we have to build masts nearby.

“We need them where people live, where they work and where they travel.”