CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Telecommunications - Green belt tree mast justified by network need

A "lightning tree" telecommunications mast has been allowed in Kent on the basis that its harmful impact on the green belt and perceived risks to health were outweighed by the need to extend network coverage.

The scheme involved a 15m high mast in the form of a dead tree within a belt of mature trees in open countryside. The inspector found that the proposal would be inappropriate development in the green belt but noted the deficiency in the coverage and capacity of the existing network within the locality. He noted that a number of other siting options had been rejected because of their location, the inadequacies of screening or owners' reluctance to allow telecommunications equipment on their property.

The inspector held that the scheme would have only a very slight impact on the openness of the green belt and that the need for the installation was sufficient to provide the very special circumstances necessary to justify the very strong policy objection to the proposal. While noting the relationship of the site to nearby houses and footpaths and to schools further afield, he held that since the proposal met the relevant health guidelines, perceived health risks did not justify withholding approval.

DCS No: 49191821; Inspector: Richard Maile; Written representations.

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