Edinburgh residents 'horrified' at plans for 5G mast next to iconic Morningside clock

Telecoms giant Vodafone is being urged to think again about plans to put up a 20-metre 5G mobile phone mast next to the iconic Morningside clock.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:55 am

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Locals are said to be “horrified” at the proposal.

The mast, with six antennas and three cabinets, would be sited on the pavement close to the clock near the junction of Morningside Road with Cluny Gardens.

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One of Morningside's most recognisable landmarks, the Morningside Clock - pictured here in 1905, at the centre of a bustling junction.

But Goff Cantley, planning officer for Morningside community council, said there were already two other masts nearby.

He said: “We've got two huge masts as it is – one at the side of the Bank of Scotland for O2 with five cabinets next to it, and a slightly smaller one almost on the bridge at the railway for EE. Now they want this third one for Vodafone. They are supposed to work together, but clearly in this instance they are not.

“I find the notion of three of these huge masts at one junction just absurd.”

The clock, which is on a cast-iron pillar, dates back to 1910 and originally stood in the middle of the road in front of Morningside Road Station.

The proposed 20-metre mast would be located close to the famous clock. Picture: Google Streetview.

Mr Cantley said it was an important feature of the area. “The Morningside clock is well known and it has been there over 100 years now. We're very fond of it.”

And he pointed out the proposed location for the mast was close not only to the clock but also to the manhole in the pavement which takes the community's Christmas tree every year, complete with power supply.

“The cabinets are going to be very close to that and either we won’t be able to put up the tree or the branches will be covering the cabinet and they won’t get access to them.”

Mr Cantley said the community council was meeting soon to take an official view, but many residents were “horrified” at the mast plan.

Morningside Labour councillor Mandy Watt said when Vodafone first gave notice last year of their proposal, all four local councillors had told them they should look for another site, but the company had submitted a planning application anyway.

She said: “The Morningside station clock is the nearest thing that Morningside has to a town centre and it needs to be loved and improved as opposed to having more clutter added to it.

“There will be plenty of other sites they could put this equipment on. It doesn't need to be here."

She said the mast would be very intrusive. “It would be very close to the clock and very close to where we put up the Morningside Christmas tree. And the big telecoms cabinets would be just behind the benches.

“I will do everything I can to make sure an alternative site is found.”

And Green councillor Melanie Main echoed her opposition to the plan. “The clock is such an important part of Morningside and this would detract from it. It would dominate the view and spoil what is a very important social space in Morningside.”

The deadline for comments on the application is Friday, March 4.

A spokesperson for Cornerstone, who manage Vodafone’s masts, said: “We understand that our mobile infrastructure impacts communities. For this reason, we give great consideration to minimising the visual impact in our designs. We aim to ensure they blend into the area as much as is possible while enabling quality digital connectivity to the communities we serve.

"We consult with local stakeholders such as planning authorities and elected community representatives prior to submitting an application; the consultation responses were noted but we were unable alter the location of the proposed base station due to the limited alternative sites in the local area. The proposed site will provide 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G services to the local community.”

The company added that the existing network service was provided from a shared site locally, 5G required further infrastructure to host the extra equipment.

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