Editor's pick: Mast ruled necessary for financial security

Despite finding that a telecommunications development in the Essex green belt would reduce openness, an inspector has determined that it is needed to provide high-quality microwave links between financial services operations in London and the continent.

The site already contained a mast which already operated at full capacity.  The appellant proposed a second one 48 metres high holding 18 antennae for five different operators. This would provide a hub within a 'low latency’ communications network providing transmission speeds considerably faster than fibre-optic links.

The appellants explained that delays of even a few milliseconds could cause financial disadvantages on trading markets. The development would enable financial services in London to maintain a competitive advantage that would be of significant benefit to the national economy, they claimed.

The inspector accepted these arguments. He also acknowledged that the site had a locational advantage close to a data centre hosting a range of telecommunications networks, while its elevated position meant it could direct communications over greater distances with a reduced risk that microwaves would be disrupted.

In his view, these factors amounted to the very special circumstances necessary to outweigh the inappropriate nature of the development and its impact on the site's openness. He decided that the mast's impact on an adjoining country park would be minimal and the area's character and appearance would not be materially affected.

Inspector: Nick Palmer; Written representations

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