Loop hole in planning regulations make Council powerless to object
East Putney residents woke to a from Network Rail letter on 25th August informing them about the construction of a new radio mast on Network Rail land next to Woodlands Way, East Putney.
Investigations by local residents soon uncovered the appalling fact that Network Rail intends to start construction in under 2 weeks a radio mast on top of a disused viaduct that will soar over 30metre (equivalent to 12 storey building) into the skies of East Putney, without any public consultation.
Due to a loop hole in planning regulations Network Rail claim they are permitted to erect these masts as part of a £4.3bn project to update the radio system without council approval. East Putney residents contacted local Cllr’s Rosemary Torrington and Edward Lister to register their deep concerns and were informed that the council had clearly raised objections to the construction. Network Rail proud of its Business in the Community Awards 2009 have ignored the Councils request and are continuing with the project.
A council spokesman said:
"This radio mast does not need any kind of planning permission or council consent because it is to be sited on railway land and also because its purpose is to improve the safety of the railway network. For these reasons it is exempt from normal planning rules and because it also meets strict EU environmental limits there are no grounds to oppose it on health and safety issues."
"We have expressed some concerns to Network Rail about the location and its proximity to residential properties, but the company is not obliged to take these into account."
A Fawe Park Resident told PutneySW15.com:
"Next to no information has been provided to residents including no direct email or telephone number to ring. Also the letter was sent out at the height of the summer break meaning that many residence were away including Putney MP Justine Greening was also away and thus unable react."
"This whole announcement" said Bridget Cassey resident & senior strategist at Ogilvy, "seems to have been cleverly orchestrated to ensure that there is no time for residence to organise any constructive resistance or to understand the process."
"Not only will the mast blight the skies of Putney, reducing house prices, but it will also emit potentially harmful microwaves into the atmosphere. According the website www.mast sanity.org it would be possible at a relatively low cost to construct a much lower mast, potentially only 5metres high, but it would cost them more money."
A Network Rail spokesperson told PutneySW15:
“The masts being installed by Network Rail will allow direct and continuous communication between train drivers and signalers, considerably improving safety, reliability and punctuality for all passengers. When selecting a site for a communications mast we take great care to evaluate the local environment and community issues, as well as choosing a site which meets the strict operational requirements of the system. In this instance by placing a mast at the railway junction, as proposed, we can get radio coverage in three directions, removing the need for additional masts nearby. We have also had to consider the deep cutting surrounding the junction which severely restricts the space we have to work with. We have therefore identified a site on a derelict viaduct which is as far away from residential properties as possible. There is also a bank of trees and other vegetation in the vicinity to provide some natural screening.”
September 11, 2010