PROPOSAL FOR A TELECOMMUNICATIONS MAST ON SHORNE COMMON

In November 2019, Shorne Parish Council received a formal proposal from Galliford Try, on behalf of Cornerstone and Telefonica (O2), to install a 25 metre high lattice tower base station in an 8 metre x 8 metre compound on Shorne Common, off Mill Hill Lane. 

They have asked our views prior to their formal planning application to Gravesham Borough Council.  You can view their plans in the section to the right, or by scrolling down the page. 

This proposal was neither initiated nor is it welcome by Shorne Parish Council.  It is on parish-owned land which was gifted to the parish council by the Earl of Darnley in 1908 for the purpose of providing “a Recreation Ground intended for the use of the inhabitants of the Parish”.  

Shorne Parish Council has diligently held and maintained the land in trust for this specific purpose, and we consider that it is neither within our desire nor within our power to willingly permit the land to be used for any purpose other than that for which it was entrusted to us.  We have therefore informed Galliford Try that we do not agree with their proposal to erect this tower on our land.

We recognise the need to improve mobile network coverage in Shorne, and have expressed our willingness to work with responsible infrastructure providers to find a solution that achieves this objective whilst minimising the adverse impact on the local environment, and we are confident that the majority of Shorne residents would support this approach.  However, we consider that a proposal for a 25 metre high lattice tower and an 8 metre square compound located within a locally-valued amenity is both insensitive and inappropriate, irrespective of ownership of the location.

We are aware that under recent changes to The Communications Act 2003, infrastructure operators can apply to the courts to compulsorily impose an agreement on the landowner to permit the infrastructure company to acquire the land for their equipment.  Should they decide to go down this route, we have informed Galliford Try that the Parish Council is minded to oppose any such application through the courts.

We have also informed Galliford Try that should they submit a planning application to install the equipment as proposed, the Parish Council is minded to object to the application on valid material planning grounds.

Should they still intend to pursue this proposal despite our opposition, we have urged them to hold a public consultation meeting to outline their proposals, and to allow local residents to ask questions and express their concerns, before they submit a formal planning application.  Shorne Parish Council has offered to facilitate and publicise such a meeting on their behalf. 

However Galliford Try has informed us that their client does not intend to hold a public consultation meeting.

Shorne Parish Council is taking legal advice, and we will keep residents informed of developments.

HAVING YOUR SAY ON THE PROPOSAL

We appreciate that some residents will feel strongly about this matter, and would like to express their views.

We would reiterate that this proposal was neither initiated nor is it welcome by Shorne Parish Council, and we intend to oppose it.  We would therefore appreciate it if objections are not directed to or at Shorne Parish Council.  We cannot enter into detailed correspondence with residents on this matter, as this will take up valuable time and interfere with our ability to deal with the matter in hand.  It may also prejudice our response.

At this stage, our advice would be to hold fire until we know more about their intentions.  There is always the possibility that they will not proceed any further.  There is nothing to prevent individuals from writing direct to Galliford Try, Cornerstones, and/or Telefonica, but you should be aware that they are under no obligation to take your comments into consideration at this stage.

However, if they submit a formal planning application to Gravesham Borough Council, there will then be a formal consultation process and Gravesham Borough Council will be obliged to take public comments into consideration when determining their decision.  Until a planning application is submitted, it is unlikely that they will take comments into account.

We understand that some organisations and some residents have health concerns about the close proximity of telecommunication equipment.  This is understandable.  However, we are informed that the proposed installation will 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 UK Government, the European Union, and they also have the formal backing of the World Health Organisation.

Residents should note that 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 an electronic communications system, or set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure”.  It is therefore unlikely that Gravesham Borough Council will be able to reject any planning application on health grounds.

Whilst there is nothing to stop any party from raising their concerns and objecting on health grounds, objections on valid planning grounds are likely to carry more weight.

Shorne Parish Council will keep residents informed of developments.

The letter received from Galliford Try can be found by clicking on the box below:

 

You can view and download the plans by clicking on the box below.

 

Cornerstone’s General Background information can be seen by clicking on the box below:

 

 

USEFUL ADDRESSES.

Mr Chris Hall – Consultant Surveyor
Galliford Try Telecoms
Innovation House
Kelburn Court
Birchwood
Warrington WA3 6UT

Graham Prothero – Chief Executive Officer
Galliford Try PLC
Cowley Business Park
Cowley
Uxbridge
Middlesex UB8 2AL

Rhys Phillip – Chief Executive Officer
Cornerstone
Hive 2
1530 Arlington Business Park
Theale
Berkshire RG7 4SA

Mark Evans – Chief Executive
Telefonica UK Ltd
260 Bath Road
Slough
Berkshire SL1 4DX

Planning Department
Gravesham Borough Council
Civic Centre
Windmill Street
Gravesend
Kent DA12 1AU