Hostile reception for Northumberland radio mast proposal

Plans submitted by an amateur radio enthusiast for a mast in his garden have been met with objections from residents in Hepscott near Morpeth

Hepscott Village near Morpeth in Northumberland
Hepscott Village near Morpeth in Northumberland

An amateur radio enthusiast’s mast has caused static in his leafy Northumberland village.

Dr Chris Callicott, who lives at Hepscott, near Morpeth, is seeking planning approval to retain the galvanised steel lattice telescopic mast with aluminium antenna in his garden.

However, his proposal has yielded 24 letters of objection from residents, as well as Hepscott Parish Council, with claims the mast is “an alien feature in an historic area”, and causes noise pollution.

Northumberland County Council planners will determine the application tomorrow, with a recommendation that it be approved.

Dr Callicott was given temporary permissions for the mast, which has a maximum height of 16m (52ft), in February 2011 and again in July 2012. He is now seeking permission for its permanent retention.

The proposal has three letters of support, claiming masts do not generate noise and that similar proposals elsewhere have been approved.

The Radio Society of Great Britain, of which the applicant is a member, is among the supporters.

However, the parish council and 24 residents have objected.

Opponents say the mast is in an inappropriate location, cite adverse visual impact, potential adverse impact on bats, birds and squirrels, noise nuisance, claim there are health hazards and that the mast would set an undesirable precedent.

Last night, retired Jocelyn Stephenson, 74, told how she has suffered from noise from the mast while transmission is taking place over winter months, which has woken her early some mornings.

Mrs Stephenson has kept a diary of such incidents.

“We are suffering noise-wise in the winter when the leaves are off the trees and when the mast is lowered right down.”

She added: “It is a huge great mast right up above the tree line.

“It is a completely alien object in a woodland setting.”

Parish council chairman Phil Ashmore, added: “As a parish council, when we have got parishioners who not only can see it, but have got noise complaints as well then, obviously, we support that, we support their comments.

“It is a very ugly structure and of considerable height and totally out of keeping with the rest of the village.”

Dr Callicott could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

His application goes before the county council’s North area planning committee tomorrow night, with a recommendation that it be approved. An officer’s report says: “Given the nature of the proposed development, the dimensions of the site and the woodland setting, it is still officer opinion that the development would not cause loss of light, overshadowing or loss of privacy, nor would it appear overbearing to neighbouring properties.

“For this reason it would not harm the living conditions of the neighbouring residents who may be able to view the mast and antennae from time to time.

“There is no highway or parking issues associated with the proposal and the installation is not in broad public view and therefore there is no adverse effect on the character or appearance of the area.”

The council authorised a site visit last month to test for radio interference, with results to be reported to tomorrow’s meeting.

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