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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Phone mast plans opposition

SIX Castle Douglas residents are strongly opposed to a mobile phone mast being erected in a forest near their homes.

The householders have submitted written objections to Dumfries and Galloway Council fighting against proposals by Clarke Telecom to erect a 40m high telecommunications mast within Laurieston Forest.

The development would also include the construction of two equipment cabinets, an electric meter cabinet, a generator, fuel tank, hard standing area, and a 1.8m high boundary fence.

Council planning case officer Joshua Scott has recommended that the construction of the mast and associated equipment is given the go-ahead, but councillors will make the final decision at the planning committee on Wednesday.

A report, due to be tabled at the meeting, reads: “The application site is an area of 0.1 hectares located around 5km west of the Laurieston Crossroads within Laurieston Forest.

“The site is located directly adjacent to the road between Laurieston and Gatehouse of Fleet and currently comprises a small area of grassland/trees.

“The site is currently screened by tall trees, with the exception of a small gap area. Beyond the trees providing screening are a group of trees which are approximately 25m high.”

The planning officer noted that there are “a number of constraints” at the earmarked site, including that the location is just outwith the Galloway Hills regional scenic area and Laughenghie and Airie Hills site of special scientific interest. It is also a contaminated land spot and falls within a Dark Sky Park area. Trees would also have to be felled to make way for the mast development.

The report states: “The land would be levelled to facilitate the proposal. The proposal comprises the removal of a small group of trees; however, the protected trees have all been confirmed to be unaffected by development.

“The trees along Laurieston Road which currently screen the site would also be retained.”

Six objections were submitted from three different houses in Laurieston. Their concerns included no justifiable need for development, detriment to regional scenic area, impact on trees, impact on wildlife, impact of light in dark skies area, impact on nearby SSSI, impact on natural environment, and health implications from electromagnetic fields emitted from the mast.

Meanwhile, a letter of support was submitted from Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, a business based at The Shard in London.

The company argued that the mast will improve mobile connectivity in rural area and will help provide an essential service to rural residents and businesses.

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