Plans for a “massive” phone mast in Burnfoot have caused uproar among community leaders.
Phone giants O2 and Vodafone are looking to erect a 40metre high mast next to the Abundant Life Church in Fairhurst Drive with the aim of improving their mobile services in the area.
And while the prospect of better mobile phone coverage has been welcomed, the proposed location for the mast has met with fierce opposition.
Hawick and Denholm councillor, Stuart Marshall, told Burnfoot Community Council that he didn’t think for a minute that residents would accept this location due to the visual impact on the area. He continued: “I think it’s a great initiative to boost the signal, but this is not the right place. I can see the complaints coming in now if the mast was to go ahead next to the church.”
Watson McAteer, also a Hawick and Denholm councillor, added: “My biggest concern at the moment is that this becomes a planning process that basically gets a rubber stamp [from the local authority].
“I agree [with Councillor Marshall], the fact that we’ve got the opportunity to get super-fast, enhanced services is great. But the mast is a massive structure and there’s got to be options rather than next to the church where it would stick out like a shore thumb.”
Chris Van Staden, the Abundant Life Church minister, said they had been kept in the dark about the mast proposal and that the church would oppose it due to “the effect it would have on people’s properties”.
Ryamond Adams, a surveyor with the Harlequin Group, the UK-wide telecom services company acting on behalf of O2 and Vodafone, said: “Due to the topography of Hawick, a location was required on the more elevated land to the north, and Burnfoot Road provides one of the more elevated locations in the area.
“Although the mast is in a housing estate, we have intentionally located it outwith the direct view of residential properties and next to the existing BT pole and lampposts.
He went on: “While we appreciate the concerns expressed, we have had to balance a number of competing interests in looking for a suitable location.
“We acknowledge there will be some impacts from the proposed pole, but it is hoped that these are outweighed by its location in the developed area, the lack of a suitable alternative and the services it will provide.”
Burnfoot Community Council chairman Michael Grieve said they had asked for a site visit with the surveyor because the location wasn’t suitable at all.
Councillor Marshall: “The sooner the better, because there will be other locations we can identify.”