Villagers have been left outraged after an internet company put a massive 60-foot mast close to their homes, with another planned for nearby.
Residents claim they were unaware IX Wireless would erect the massive aerial over the summer, and they are fighting to prevent another from being put up.
While rolling out its “next generation” broadband across the northwest, the company has faced criticism for failing to consult residents and, in some cases, obtaining the necessary local authority permissions.
Milnrow, Greater Manchester, has joined the list of places taking on the Blackburn-based broadband, and the local councillors are calling on the government to step in and take action.
Helen Copping, of Harbour Lane, says the mast is a “monstrosity”.
“It‘s literally eight to ten steps from my front door,” she said.
“It’s horrific – I have never seen anything like it. It looks like we are getting ready for a launch.
“My neighbour literally looks out of her window, and it’s there. It’s huge. It’s totally not in keeping with the area.”
Helen, a 44-year-old hairdresser, says there has been “little” to “no communication” with residents and “certainly” no consultation.
“It is a bit of a worry, it’s so close to the houses, it’s horrendous,” she said.
She believes the mast could have been put somewhere else had IXW given more consideration to residents.
“This mast is horrific – it’s industrial looking, and we are just around the corner from an industrial estate,” she said.
“It was put there because they thought it was an easier job.
“It’s been stuck there and they have said if you want to contest it, you can now it’s up.”
Helen has also been suffering from a medical condition and says the stress of the mast arriving unannounced is making things worse.
“I have had no communication for IXW and then one day, it’s right outside my window.
“People shouldn’t be treated in this way,” she added.
Meanwhile, Andrew Docker, from Smith Hill, is awaiting the imminent installation of a mast outside his house.
He says it will be in the “direct line of sight” of his house and those of his close neighbours, as well as affecting a number of other nearby properties.
“There’s probably about three houses in the direct line of sight and probably in an oblique line of sight to a number of others,” he said.
“Our concern is for the visual amenity of the place. We had a reasonably nice view of the hills from our window, and we won’t have that anymore.”
Like Helen, he claims there has been no chance to object and the development has “sneaked past” residents.
He also believes the Smith Hill mast could just as easily be installed on an area of rough grass around 30 yards up the road, which is owned by the council.
“Once they have got it up I believe once it’s up and in place people can appeal – but it can be a 10-year process with them appealing again and again,” he said.
He also notes that IXW was fined £120 for carrying out unauthorised works in Bury – a sum he feels is unlikely to deter them.
“It’s the siting of it and the way they have done it.
“We have seen our freedoms eroded left, right and centre and it’s just another thing where people are being ridden roughshod over.
“They are trying it on. We are fed up of being trampled on by these kinds of people.”
The mast at Harbour Lane has been installed under “permitted development” rules, as it is an upgrade to an existing structure, rather than an entirely new pole.
This means the council cannot refuse it provided it meets regulations.
Milnrow councillor Dave Bamford says IXW are “basically bending the rules”.
“We all need good broadband and wireless but what really needs to happen is an investment in new fibre broadband upgrades,” he said.
“Current legislation allows companies to upgrade existing masts to a massive height without formal permission and, put simply, the government needs to close this loophole immediately as it is causing anxiety and frustration with people locally.”
Fellow Milnrow councillor Andy Kelly – leader of Rochdale’s Lib Dem group – has also called on the government to act.
“It seems they are popping up all over Greater Manchester and indeed the rest of the country,” he said.
“If this practice goes unchallenged and unchecked then they literally could be installed anywhere, in any residential area near anyone.”
Coun Kelly continued: “The government has failed to keep legislation up to date to keep this from happening.
“I have written to government minister Michael Gove, at the Department of Housing and Communities to get this addressed and dealt with.”
A Rochdale council spokesperson said the authority was looking into the matter.
A spokesperson said: “A number of residents have contacted us about this issue and we totally understand and sympathise with their concerns.
“We’re currently taking legal advice on this issue and the outcome of these discussions will determine any next steps.”
A government spokesperson said telecoms firms were required to seek the approval of the local authority and consult local residents before installing new masts.
“Reforms to planning rules brought in last year only allow existing masts to be upgraded without prior approval,” they said.
These vital changes form part of our mission to accelerate the roll out of better mobile coverage whilst protecting the countryside.”
Express Online has contacted IX Wireless for comment.
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