Edinburgh residents say controversial 5G mast installation has become 'a shambles'
The installation of a controversial 5G mast on the outskirts of Edinburgh has turned into a "shambles" according to residents.
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Plans by mobile phone company Three to erect the 18-metre tall pole – two and a half times the height of a lamppost – at Swanston were approved despite 132 objections.
And the residents say their suggestion of an alternative site just around the corner was just ignored.
Land which Three thought belonged to the council, where they proposed to put concrete blocks, then turned out to belong communally to the residents.
And when contractors turned up on Monday to start work on installing the mast they damaged an underground gas pipe which plans did not show.
Now the work has had to be halted and it is understood it could take up to two weeks to carry out the gas repairs.
Resident Judith Pullar said: “It wasn't that people were saying we don't want it here. We were just asking them to take a sensible approach and put it in not such an intrusive place that would take over the pavement – it's a busy road, there have been accidents there, there's lots of families that walk to and from the school.
"We were asking it was put round the corner – there was a suggested point just a few metres away, a bit of pavement nobody walks down. It was really disappointing it felt there was no consideration given to it.
“Then they discovered there was incorrect information on the planning application because part of the land they were proposing to put some concrete blocks on didn't belong to the council but the residents. It demonstrates the lack of thoroughness in their investigations right at the outset, but planning permission had been given and the planning department said there was nothing they could do.
“And when they came to start work on Monday it transpired they hadn't done the due diligence and all the searches to check all the services located within the site of the mast because they have damaged a live gas main. It's going to have to be replaced at the damaged section, which will possibly take up to two weeks' work.
“All this has gone on and it seems like an absolute shambles. My concern is about the capability of the company to plan and install the mast safely.”
Another resident Paul Taylor said: “No common sense has been applied at all in the whole process."
He said the site proposed by the residents for the mast was a far better location. “You just need to look at it and common sense says stick it there, even if you needed to increase the width of the pavement to take it. It's not a road so much as a lay-by. It probably gets used for fly-tipping more than for by pedestrians.”
And he added: “They didn’t know the main gas pipe to the estate runs right along where the mast was going to go. Speaking with the engineering guy, he said it just wasn't on the plans.”
Colinton/Fairmilehead Labour councillor Scott Arthur said: "The way this planning application has progressed has left residents feeling frustrated and alienated. The Scottish Government needs to review this whole process and give communities the right to appeal planning decisions.
A Three spokesperson said: “5G rollout is vital for residents and businesses of Edinburgh We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and this site will be critical to making that happen.
"Masts needs to be situated where people will be using the service and, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage. We carry out extensive searches and surveys to evaluate all the options. We then choose the option most likely to gain planning approval from the local council. This will include showing we have minimised the impact on residents and the locality.
“We have started the build of this site and have identified gas works below the site – we’re working to remedy this and will then continue the site build.”
Gas company SGN said: “Our engineers attended a work site in New Swanston on Monday afternoon following third party damage to our gas network.
“We carried out investigations on our gas pipe and made safe. There was no interruption to gas supplies in the area as a result of the damage or the required repair work. Our engineers conducted safety checks in the surrounding area before leaving site.
“We’re now working with the local authorities on a plan to safely replace this section of our network at a later date.”