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Dover District Council reject plans for communications mast taller than the Shard in Richborough

Planning applications for two communications masts, one of which was set to be taller than the Shard, were both rejected by planners last night.

Very similar reasons for objections were listed by the planning committee members, describing the structures as "unsightly" and lacking "significant benefits".

Councillors considered an application by Canadian firm Vigilant Global to build a 322m structure at Richborough Power Station, followed by New Line Networks’ proposal for a slightly smaller 305m tower at nearby Kings End Farm.

The Shard is dubbed Europe's tallest building
The Shard is dubbed Europe's tallest building

Councillors said they would impact on heritage assets such as the Grade I Listed St Peter’s Church in Sandwich and change the landscape's character.

New concerns were raised over the footpath which would be used in construction in Vigilant’s proposal. Planning officer Andrew Somerville listed the lack of official ecological assessment as another reason for its refusal.

Vigilant Global’s application also received objections from the National Grid.

“In my 26 years of being a councillor, I think this is the worst planning application I’ve seen..." - Cllr Bernard Butcher, Dover District Council

Both masts would carry financial information to traders in Europe at superfast speeds. The companies had identified the location because it offered them an optimum line of sight across the Channel to a mast in Belgium.

Vigilant Global said their mast would be vital to the businesses it serves.

NLN said the infrastructure would support the UK economy and financial technology sector.

They had both offered to help the local community.

Vigilant Global has already pledged new phones, better broadband and savings on its communications bill to Sandwich Technology School, plus a new sound system for Sir Roger Manwood’s School, despite planning consent.

NLN were offering a Community Interest Company, sharing some of its revenue with local groups as well as funding towards Richborough Fort. They had also reaffirmed a deconstruction clause if it affected aviation in the event of the reopening of Manston airport.

Cllr Bernard Butcher said: “In my 26 years of being a councillor, I think this is the worst planning application I’ve seen.

“We hear that it’s comparable to the former power station but it’s of no comparison.

The proposed design of Vigilant Global's mast
The proposed design of Vigilant Global's mast

“That was fuelled by Kent coal giving employment to our miners and providing electricity.

"It was serving a useful benefit to the community where as this proposal is just unsightly.”

With reference to the close-by Richborough Fort, which he said brings in tourists, he feels it is the wrong location for a communications mast.

He said: “There has got to be other alternative location where it wouldn’t cause so much havoc and unsightliness.”

Nine members voted in favour of rejected the proposal with one abstention.

He opposed NLN’s application for very similar reasons.

Cllr Peter Wallace spoke out in favour of both applications.

He said: “I do welcome this application as I did the one before as I do think there are benefits but is doesn’t look like they are significant benefits.”

The vote to refuse NLN’s application was unanimous.

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