CONSULTATION FOR A MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATION MAST AT SHORNE COMMON
(This consultation is now closed)
Galliford Try, acting on behalf of Cornerstone Telecommunication Infrastructure Limited (CTIL) and Telefonica UK, has formally requested to enter into negotiations with the Parish Council, to reach an agreement to the lease of land at Shorne Common, adjacent to Mill Hill Lane, for their proposed establishment of a mobile telecommunications base station.
This proposal was not initiated by Shorne Parish Council, and the Parish Council has no desire to lease the land. We have offered to facilitate a public consultation meeting on behalf of the infrastructure providers, so that they can outline their proposals and take account of the views of local residents. Regrettably, they have declined.
In the absence of any meaningful consultation from Galliford Try or the infrastructure providers, Shorne Parish Council has decided to carry out its own local consultation in order to gain a better understanding of the views of local residents and organisations. You can download a consultation questionnaire for completion at the bottom of this page.
Click on boxes to see documents.
Shorne Common is located on the western side at the top of Mill Hill Lane. It is a pleasant local amenity, bounded by mature trees, situated within Shorne Village Conservation Area.
It has a small parking area, and a toddlers’ play area with a swing and a small slide.
Shorne Scouts, Cubs, and Beavers hut is located in the northern part of Shorne Common.
A pathway leads through from the common towards the site of the old windmill, providing panoramic views across the countryside down towards the River Thames.
The map to the right shows the approximate location of the proposed compound, represented to scale as a black square.
The exact location is given as National Grid Reference 568927 east, 171182 north.
The red line represents the border of Shorne Village Conservation Area.
The photograph opposite is a Google street view image, taken from the entrance to the parking area in Mill Hill Lane, looking north towards the proposed location of the mast.
The toddlers’ play area can be seen on the left hand side of the green.
The proposed compound for the telecommunications base station will be at the far end of the grassed area, on the left hand side. It is expected that the top of the mast will be visible above the trees.
Further details of the location and the proposed installation can be found by clicking on the box below.
Background to Shorne Common
Shorne Common, previously known as School Common, was given to Shorne Parish Council in 1908 by Ivo Francis Walter Bligh, the 8th Earl of Darnley, to be held In Trust “for the purpose of recreation and improvement of the inhabitants of the parish”, and “provided always that the said Recreation Ground or Common shall be under the management and control of the said Parish Council of Shorne”. Shorne Parish Council has diligently held and maintained the common for this purpose for the past 112 years.
The diagram opposite shows an elevation of the proposed compound and mast viewed from the east. This base station is intended to improve coverage in Shorne for users of the O2 and Vodaphone mobile phone networks.
It will consist of a 25 metre (82 feet) high lattice tower, located in an 8 metre by 8 metre (26 feet by 26 feet) compound, which will also accommodate their equipment cabinets. The compound will be surrounded by a 2 metre high fence. The fence, cabinets, and mast will be painted grass green (RAL 6010) to blend in with the surroundings, and outside the perimeter of the fence will be planted with native shrubs, trees and bushes to mask the fence.
It is intended that compound will be set back towards the existing tree line to avoid significant intrusion into the grassed area. The mast itself is likely to be within the trees but extending above the top of the trees, Some trees will need to be removed or lopped.
Trenches for cables will need to be excavated across the common, and the infrastructure provider will require unrestricted access to their equipment at all times.
Shorne Parish Council understands that some people have genuine concerns regarding the effect of radio frequency emissions from mobile phone masts.
Galliford Try has asserted that the installation is “designed to be fully compliant with the public exposure guidelines established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). These guidelines have the support of the UK government, the European Union, and they have the formal backing of the World Health Organisation”.
Shorne Parish Council is not endorsing these guidelines, nor is it seeking to defend the position of the mobile phone network providers, we are merely reproducing the words in the proposal. Whether individuals choose to accept these guidelines or not is a personal decision.
However, local authorities are bound to accept these guidelines. Section 116 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that “Local Planning Authorities must determine applications on planning grounds only. They should not seek to prevent competition between different operators, question the need for electronic communications systems, or set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure“.
It is therefore possible that, if this proposal reaches planning application stage, objections on the grounds of health concerns may not carry much weight, unless accompanied by firm evidence.
Galliford Try claims to have considered a number of other locations, but they concluded that none were suitable. These included:
The old Telephone Exchange in Gravesend Road.
This was discounted by Galliford Try because any development at this location would be a significant structure (25m+) within the village street scene.
The Surgery in Crown Lane.
This was discounted by Galliford Try because any development at this location would be a significant structure (20m+) within the village street scene.
Shorne Village Hall, in The Street.
Given that this was in the centre of the village, any development at this location would be a significant structure (20m+) within the village street scene, and as such was discounted by Galliford Try.
Shorne Recreation Ground adjacent to Pondfield Lane.
A development at this location would require a mast of a very large scale (35m+) in order to provide services to the main areas of Shorne, and as such was discounted by Galliford Try.
St Peter & St Paul’s Church.
Galliford Try state that a proposal for an installation in the church tower has previously been pursued, but there was strong local opposition. As such “this option has been discounted as a viable proposition at this time”.
Shorne Parish Council’s View
The Parish Council recognises the need to improve mobile phone network coverage in Shorne.
However, we consider that a 25 metre high lattice tower in an 8 metre by 8 metre compound located within a valued amenity enjoyed by many local inhabitants, and in a conservation area, is both insensitive and inappropriate, and we have requested Galliford Try to look for alternative solutions.
We also do not consider that it would be appropriate for Shorne Parish Council to agree to the use of this land for this proposal without taking the views of the inhabitants of Shorne into consideration, given that the land was granted to the Parish Council to be held in trust for the recreation and improvement of the inhabitants of the parish.
We are disappointed that Galliford Try, acting on behalf of CTIL and Telefonica, declined our offer to facilitate a public consultation meeting, where they could outline their proposals and gain an understanding of local opinions. It appears that they are determined to proceed with their preferred option without consulting local residents, and regardless of ownership of the land.
We know that some residents who live close to the proposed site are unhappy, and it is important that they have the opportunity to express their views. We are also aware that satisfactory mobile network coverage is important to many residents of the parish, and their views should also be heard.
It is for this reason that the Parish Council is holding this consultation.
What happens next?
Galliford Try has formally requested to enter into negotiations to reach a consensual agreement to the lease of the land for their proposal to establish the base station at Shorne Common. Note that this is not a planning application.
Under recent changes to the Electronic Communications Act 2003, if we refuse to enter into negotiations, or we fail to reach agreement on the terms, they have the legal right to ask a court to impose the agreement upon us, under Part 4 of Schedule 3A, The Electronic Communications Code.
On completion of the consultation, Shorne Parish Council will consider the responses received, and reach a decision whether to enter into negotiations.
If agreement is reached with Galliford Try, or in the event that the infrastructure provider is successful in obtaining a court order imposing the agreement on the Parish Council, the infrastructure provider would still have to apply for planning permission. We understand this is a legal requirement for masts over 20 metres high in a conservation area. If this is the case, then Gravesham Borough Council as the local planning authority will be required to carry out a formal consultation before making make the final decision on whether to permit the mast.
Please note that Gravesham Borough Council will not be required to notify everybody about this consultation; they will merely have to post a notice locally and on their website. We will endeavour to keep residents informed of any such consultation.
Have Your Say!
This is your opportunity to let us know your views. You can let us know by one of the following methods:
1. By completing the attached form and returning it to us by hand or by post to:
Shorne Parish Council
c/o Shorne Village Hall
2. By completing the attached form and returning it to us by email to:
The consultation forms can be downloaded by clicking on the boxes below.
If you wish to participate in this consultation and let us know your views, please respond by midnight on Friday 28th February 2020.
Further information can be found on our dedicated website page at https://shorneparishcouncil.org/telecoms-mast/ where we will endeavour to keep the situation updated.