Delight for Avoch residents as mast plan is scrapped

By Shirley Hastings
Published: 09 March, 2007

BLACK Isle residents who feared they could soon be living with a mobile phone mast near their homes breathed a huge sigh of relief this week at news the plans have been shelved.

The announcement from Orange ended months of worry for residents living near the Knockmuir site, in Avoch, where the controversial mast had been proposed.

The company’s original proposals could have seen a 10-metre pole, telecommunications equipment and landscaping on the site.

However, the plans provoked fears about the mast’s impact on public health and the landscape. Other worries included it worsening visibility at a junction at Knockmuir/Killen Road.

In a letter to Avoch and Killen Community Council, which opposed the plans, Orange explained that following a review of its coverage, it decided to join forces with rival company Vodafone to create a combined network of mast stations. As a result of this it will no longer be pressing forward with its plans for Avoch.

A spokesman for the company said, “In the medium term is it likely that only sites capable of accommodating combined Orange and Vodafone coverage via shared antennae will be progressed. Over the long term, it is envisaged that both operators will work to fully integrate network infrastructure.”

He explained this would reduce the necessity of new base station sites, and allow the removal of redundant equipment where both operators currently have capacity and are able to make provision.

“As a result, Orange will no longer be progressing the proposal to physically develop a base station in the Avoch area, although requirements are subject to on-going review.”

At a public meeting held back on June last, attended by 35 villagers, mostly from Knockmuir View and houses nearest the site, Orange gave assurances it would re-open negotiations with Broadlands for a site on its land at Arkendeith.

This site was favoured by the community but negotiations never reached an agreement.

Commenting on the news that plans had been shelved, community council chairman Martin Gill, said he was pleased for villagers who objected to the plan, which had caused them months of worry.

“Whilst we all want good reception on our mobile phones, the siting of masts is a difficult issue,” he said. “In this case, we felt the proposed mast was too close to houses and intrusive to the landscape. The community council favoured an earlier plan for a mast at Arkendeith, but Orange was unable to come to an agreement with Broadland.”

s.hastings @rsjournal.co.uk

All content copyright 2007 Scottish Provincial Press Ltd.

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