Headteacher among 50 objectors to 20-metre high phone mast on A39 at Marksbury

Plans to put up a 20-metre 5G phone mast in Marksbury have sparked a wave of objections, including from the headteacher of the village school.

CK Hutchison Networks have applied to Bath & North East Somerset Council for permission to erect the mast on a grass verge next to the A39, as indicted by the arrow in the picture.

They say the mast would be on the edge of the residential area it is designed to serve and the impact of it will be outweighed by the “significant” public benefit.

So far more than 50 objections have been sent to the council, highlighting concerns including road safety, with several residents highlighting that there has been a fatality on this stretch of the A39.

Objectors also say that the mast, its six antennas, two transmission dishes and four equipment cabinets will be an eyesore in the historic village, and some also have fears about the possible impact on health.

No objections have been raised by B&NES Council’s highways team, however. In an assessment published this week, a principal engineer in the highway development control team said: “Having reviewed the information submitted in support of the application with colleagues from the Street Works team, Highway Development Control, officers raise no objection on highway grounds.”

In her letter of objection, the headteacher at nearby Marksbury CE Primary School Julie Player says: “I have strong concerns about the planned position of the mast. The corner it is planned to be situated on is a known blind spot for the village. It is already very difficult to exit the village at either ends of the village road.

“Poor visibility and speeding traffic make exiting by vehicle or on foot very difficult. With the added visual disruption caused by the planned mast, in the proposed position, I would be concerned about the safety of villagers and school families using this road. At present approximately 60 families either drive themselves or use the four minibuses that serve the school.

“We already use a one-way system to lessen risk, which means exiting the village up past the school. They would all be ‘looking right’ to attempt to exit the village and this view would be impaired by the proposed mast. In my time as head, I have witnessed several road traffic collisions at this junction, and I believe that situating the mast here would only increase the risk for further accidents.”

One resident said: “There has already been a fatality exactly where the mast is being located and this installation will without doubt, compromise the safety of Marksbury residents and other people using this section of highway.” 

Another local says: “I am completely shocked that this monstrosity is planned for our beautiful village, we already have the hardest job of pulling out on to the main road and this will be a huge obstruction, it will deface the village and properties and reduce their value in price, my biggest concern is the health implications to our families and school children.”

One resident says that drivers pulling out from the road by the school on to the main A39 will have their view obscured by the four cabinets at ground level, adding: “This is already a dangerous junction. With traffic approaching from the right side of a driver turning on to the A39, the curve in the road provides only a moment for the driver to see traffic. The unobstructed view across the plot of land where the proposed monopole will be placed is essential for road safety. I understand that the council’s highways department has previously objected to any development on this land for the reasons I have outlined.”

Another objector calls for B&NES to work with the phone giant to find an alternative site in the area which is more remote from residences as well as not being hazardous to road users: “We all want improved mobile phone coverage but not at any price for the quality of our safety and environment.”

A firm of environmental and transport consultants, Entran, have been appointed by a group of residents to review the application. Their report highlights safety hazards and points out that the site plans fail to accurately show the proposed location. They say parking provision is also shown on one plan and say: “If this proposal does include a hardstanding and dropped kerb to create a vehicle access onto the A39, then full planning permission will be required.”

One email of support has also been sent to the council, saying: “Rather than let rural communities slip behind, it’s a great way to harness new technology.”

The closing date for comments is next Thursday (16th September). The planning reference is 21/03977/TEL.

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