Call made for phone mast bid derailment

James-Hibbert Hingston, near Newcastleton, where the mast is planned.
James-Hibbert Hingston, near Newcastleton, where the mast is planned.
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A proposed mobile phone telecommunication mast on land outside of Newcastleton has implications for any future extension of the Borders Railway, opponents of the scheme claim.

Scottish Borders Council has received six objections to an application to build the 15m high mast and associated equipment in a fenced compound on agricultural land to the west of Ovenshank Farm Cottage.

Objections centre on a lack of neighbour consultation over the plans, health and safety fears, and potential for a new access to the site being required if the railway route in the area is reopened.

Among the opponents is James Hibbert-Hingston, of close-by Powisholm Farm, who believes no consideration had been given to the future access to his property if the application is agreed.

He said: “Although the applicant has made a track across his land up to the railway line and then to the proposed site, in the likely event of the reinstatement of the railway that new access becomes obsolete and the only access returns to that across my land.”

Mr Hibbert-Hingston also raises concern at the “detrimental nature” of the Tetra communications system proposed for the site, adding: “There is substantial evidence of the detrimental nature of the Tetra communications system, particularly the frequency of the carrier wave used.

“It is known to be a problem and we are one of the very few countries which allow that specific frequency to be used.”

Mr Hibbert-Hingston added: “While I am aware that such communication systems are deemed necessary I would hope that the planning department will try to minimise the detrimental effect that such masts will have on the people living closest to them and they will not be ‘sacrificed for the greater good’.”

But when members of the council’s planning and building standards committee meet on Monday they will be recommended to agree the application.

A report to the committee, from chief planning officer Julie Hayward, says: “Policy states that development that could prejudice the delivery of the Borders Railway from Hawick to the English Border will not be permitted.

“The proposed equipment compound is within the agricultural field adjacent to the former railway line. The development would not encroach onto the railway line and the proposal would not prejudice the aim of developing a reinstated railway in the future.

“The access to the site would be via the track from the B6357 through the steading and field and over the railway bridge. No upgrading works are proposed.

“The agent has submitted details of other sites that have been considered and discounted due to poor coverage as a result of surrounding topography and woodland, poor access and issues with power connections.

“The proposed mast would increase coverage to the east and the west. In terms of cumulative impact, there is a mast adjacent to the B6357 to the south of Newcastleton and one at the golf club. The proposed mast would not result in unacceptable cumulative impact with other installations.

“Taking into account the scale of the development, the proposal would not have detrimental impact on the visual amenities of the area.”

The applicant, Tobias William Tennant, of Shaws Farm, Newcastleton, was unavailable for comment.