BLUNDER LETS IN MOBILE MAST

By Richard Wright

BUREAUCRATIC bungling has led to a mobile phone mast getting the go-ahead, despite being turned down by councillors. Because the IW Council did not write to the company within the statutory 56-day time limit, the mast won approval, even though planners rejected the application by telecommunications giant 3G. The mistake was revealed by a BBC News investigation as one of a total of 66 by planning departments across southern England. In October the council refused permission for the 12-metre mast carrying three antennae, a receiver dish and radio equipment housing on the grass verge near the junction of Long Lane and Staplers Road, Newport. It decided the installation was too prominent and would add to visual clutter. Planners were not satisfied other sites had been investigated. Objections were also raised by the Island branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). However, this week work on erecting the mast was being completed by 3G engineers. CPRE chairman Prof Dennis Russell said in his letter to planners: "This simply adds to the clutter of ugly poles, signs and huts finding their way onto our roadsides and does nothing to improve the appearance of the approaches to the Island's county town. "Such an intrusion into the character of the area so prominently visible and close to residences, should be refused." This week he added: "The council needs to ensure this sort of mistake can never happen again." IW Council development control manager Andrew Pegram said: "Even one clerical mistake of this kind is too many and measures have been taken to prevent this happening again. "However, this incident should be put in the context of more than 100 mobile phone mast developments on the Island, which have been processed correctly."

31 March 2006

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