Natural Scenery

North York Moors Mobile Masts Could ‘Harm Landscapes and Nature’

Telecommunications firms including Three and Virgin Media have been told their plans to extend reception across one of England’s largest mobile “notspots” should be rejected.

The North York Moors National Park Authority’s planning committee have been recommended to reject Three’s plan for a 20m lattice mast at Commondale and Virgin Media’s proposed 17.5m and 25m masts beside the Cleveland Way at Ingleby Greenhow and at Lockton as they would spoil some of the country’s finest landscapes and could hit species such as curlew, merlin and lapwing.

The planning officers’ advice to refuse the schemes comes just months after custodians of the highly protected area approved a proposal to erect a 25m-high telecommunications mast at a prominent site beside the national walking trail at Kildale, after hearing mobile phone coverage had become an essential amenity.

Since 2021, when the North Yorkshire Rural Commission inquiry concluded the county’s rural communities needed to be provided a basic “human right” to internet access and mobile phone coverage.

The recommendation has been issued despite the authority’s management plan supporting improvements to mobile phone coverage in rural areas and the proposed masts being proposed as part of the Government-backed Shared Rural Network, which aims to increase consumer choice in remote locations.

Ahead of the meeting on Thursday, parish councils for the Lockton and Commondale schemes have welcomed the proposals, saying the masts would bring much-need improvements in coverage to their areas.

However, while the masts need to be in prominent hilltop positions to maximise coverage, Ingleby Greenhow Parish Council said it believes there are more appropriate locations”, such as on lower slopes at the treeline.

The Cleveland Way Partnership added the Ingleby Greenhow proposal was “likely to have a very negative impact on Cleveland Way users, who would
see it for a considerable distance”.

The body added: “Its position in such an open and remote landscape, so close to the highest point of the North York Moors, would cause real damage to the sense of place that this part of the North York Moors provides.”

In a report to the meeting, officers said the authority’s policy dictated greater weight should be given to conservation of the natural beauty of the landscape over opportunities to promote recreation for visitors and fostering the economic and social wellbeing of local communities.

They concluded all three proposed masts would have an unduly intrusive and harmful visual impact on the character and appearance of the locality”,

The report added the operator had not satisfactorily demonstrated the developments would not harm habitats or species in the North York Moors Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation.

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