Decision to be taken behind closed doors on ‘unsightly’ 80-foot phone mast in Redcatch Park

‘Thousands of families will suffer if this proposal goes ahead’

A decision will be taken next week behind closed doors on installing a 24-metre phone mast in a park in Bristol.

A temporary 5G mast is planned for the middle of Redcatch Park in Knowle, sparking anger among local residents.

Bristol City Council has few, if any powers to prevent the mast getting put up, despite cross-party opposition to the plans.

Instead the decision will be made by the Lands Tribunal on July 15.

National laws give ‘sweeping powers’ to mobile phone operators to install phone masts if they invoke a special emergency code. Local campaigners say there are more suitable alternative locations.

Sian Ellis-Thomas, co-lead of the Residents Against the Mast campaign, said: “In just three weeks we managed to get 3,746 Bristol-based signatures and an unprecedented 300-plus objections to the council. Signatures and objections are still coming in.

Redcatch Community Gardens is in Redcatch Park in Knowle.

“We liaised directly with Walden, the operator’s agents, to try and actively engage them in a dialogue, to work with them to find an alternative solution outside the park, but we found them to be obstructive, dishonest and hostile.

“It appears that if an operator invokes the emergency code then it just proceeds without question, leaving the community and the council with very little or no recourse when operators locate it on open public space that negatively impacts our community.”

She added the community supported placing the mast in an alternative location nearby on unused scrubland. She presented the petition to a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 5, urging councillors to support her campaign to stop the mast in Redcatch Park.

Walden Communications is representing two phone operators, EE and Hutchinson 3G, in the mast row.

A mobile phone telecommunications mast.

While Walden said the mast would be temporary, locals fear it could be permanent.

Green Cllr Ed Plowden said: “This isn’t some sort of anti-5G position.

“This is sheer incredulity at the proposal to dump an 80-foot high unsightly mast on a 1,200 square foot concrete base in a much used and much loved local park right in the middle of a residential area. Especially when there are other options available.

“I find it incredible that the legislation gives powers to ignore local feeling and sidestep local democracy. The choice to give sweeping powers to private corporations and ignore local democracy seems to be a mistake.

“This infrastructure should be a public service, publicly owned and developed through democratic processes.”

Labour Cllr Ellie King, cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “As an administration, we don’t support the proposed position of this mast.

“There are possible alternative sites for the mast nearby, outside the park, and we would hope that the operator would take this on board. It’s disappointing they haven’t so far.

“We’re disputing the use of emergency powers by the operator, who has applied to the lands tribunal to get the mast put up. This legislative framework means that though we are the landowner, we’re not the decision maker in terms of whether to grant a licence for a temporary mast.”