New telephone mast signals discontent
LOCAL residents await the outcome of a decision on a controversial telephone mast near Ringmore. The call is likely to be made by South Hams councillors on Wednesday, October 1, on whether to allow the 15m lattice mast and ground units on top of a hill between the village and St Ann's Chapel. If given the go-ahead, the mast should eliminate a 'not-spot' of no mobile phone or internet signals in the area. But objectors say the mast is in the wrong place and feel that they did not have enough time to discuss alternatives sites before a full planning application was submitted. South Hams Council received more than 40 letters and emails regarding the application, most of which objected. A group of protestors plans to attend the meeting of the council's development management committee on Wednesday. If granted permission, the mast would be built on the border between Bigbury and Ringmore parishes. Ringmore Parish Council chairman Mike Hammond said: 'In principle I'm in favour, but not with the actual location. I think if they had come to us with a choice of different locations, they would have got a resounding yes. 'They did apparently have alternatives, but we were never told what they were.' Ringmore Parish Council objected after a meeting in February attracted the largest turnout of locals in two years. Dr Stuart Watts, chairman of Bigbury Parish Council, said: 'Bigbury Parish Council has taken the view that, although it is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a balance needs to be struck between conserving the environment and making it sustainable. 'Bigbury has poor mobile phone reception and slow broadband. I conducted a small survey of broadband speeds around the parish and the results fall far short of advertised maxima, which puts us at a severe disadvantage in encouraging new businesses into the area and in supporting those already here. 'Bigbury Parish Council did ask for better camouflaging of the mast, with hedging as a condition of planning approval, and this condition has been met in the revised plans. The mast should benefit our community, in balance.'
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