Mystery of the mast solved

By Kevin Barnes

It is known as the home of the Derby and for affording spectacular views of the London cityscape on a crystal-clear summer afternoon.

But last week Epsom Downs was more talked about for being the site of a 30m-high hydraulic platform casting a slender shadow on the Old Paddock. The cherry picker was the source of speculation last Wednesday as neighbours tried to decipher just what purpose it was serving.

A quick call to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council ended all doubt: the lift was intended to test the visual impact of a proposed 30m mobile phone mast.

When the old grandstand at Epsom racecourse is demolished in September, a hub of two dozen transmitters will be pulled down. Six affected mobile phone operators are seeking permission for a replacement grey lattice tower with 28 antennas, 20 microwave dishes and 26 cabinets. continued...

David Smith, chief executive of the borough council, said: "It's unusual to do something like this, but this is a fairly sensitive location.

"The dummy mast will allow us to evaluate the visual impact in the flesh, rather than just superimposing something on to a photo."

Not everyone seemed entirely convinced about using a "pole" to judge whether breathtaking vistas will be marred by a giant radiation-emitting device. Sarah Clayton, secretary of Epsom and Ewell Environ- ment Forum, said: "It doesn't seem the best way to go about it, but you can see where the top will be, then use a bit of imagination."

l What do you think? Write to us at Epsom Guardian, Newspaper House, 34-44 London Road, Morden SM4 5BX or email

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