Shropshire Star

'Highly significant' Wrekin mast upgrade is approved by planners

Plans to improve the county’s mobile phone signal by upgrading the landmark Wrekin mast have been given the go-ahead by council planners.

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Applicant Vodafone says the scheme will provide a “highly significant” upgrade at the site, with three new antennas and two dishes set to be added to the existing 170ft-high mast.

Built in 1975, the transmitting station has carried television and radio signals to homes in the Midlands for nearly five decades, with numerous mobile phone antennas added over the past 25 years. It was converted from analogue to digital broadcasting in 2009.

“The service provided by the operator is in the public interest and represents a highly significant advancement in mobile connectivity,” said the applicant.

“In the UK there are now more than 111 million subscriptions to mobile networks and mobile services now exceed fixed landlines in terms of customer numbers and usage.

A planning statement submitted by site operators Arqiva said adding the new equipment to the existing antenna would minimise its visual impact.

Some extra ground installations such as cabinets and cabling will also be installed as part of the upgrade, which the applicant said was “relatively minor” in scale, with all works planned to be within the existing compound at the base of the mast.

“Any potential impact of the development is principally associated with the radio mast, which is the most visible component of the base station, and which cannot be fully screened for operational reasons,” they added.

“The continued use of a lattice tower, which is a relatively open and permeable structure, will give the impression of allowing views through the mast to the backdrop of trees and the sky, thereby minimising its visual impact as much as possible.”

Telford & Wrekin Council’s Ecology and Built Heritage teams raised no objections, while the Shropshire Hills National Landscape Partnership were also consulted, and did not raise any concerns with the application.

Planning officers from Telford & Wrekin Council gave the scheme full approval on April 26.

“Officers consider that the changes to the mast can be accepted, given the large scale of the existing mast and its isolated location away from residential properties,” the council planning report said.

“Given that the proposal is to upgrade the existing equipment and that all changes are to be contained to the existing compound, it is considered the scheme would have no significant detrimental impact upon the surrounding site or impact upon any of the formal designations in place.