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Redhatch Copse Telecommunications Mast

The article below has been written by a resident of Earley. The opinions expressed are those of the resident; while the future of Redhatch Copse is of great interest to Earley Environmental Group, the opinions expressed are not official group policy. The article is presented here in the interest of stimulating debate. Any comments on the article can be sent to the EEG WebMaster and will be forwarded to the author.

As residents of Earley we all should be aware of the impact that the communications mast that has been erected in Redhatch Copse will have on the environment of the copse and surrounding areas. The Wokingham Borough Council has been very unsupportive, as have the Earley Town Council, although the Town Council have little powers, they showed no support for the efforts to get the outline plans for the mast stopped.

The planning appeal which took place on 6th and 7th March, 2012 came out in favour of erecting the mast in its present position, despite arguments from local residents about the size, noise, environment and other genuine issues being put forward. So, we are left with this "blot on the landscape".

  • All access to the copse is now denied. In the past, for many years, local residents have enjoyed walking their dogs in the copse. Bluebells were abundant throughout the copse, now there is a large area of electronic equipment within a caged area where bluebells were dug up. Have they replanted these bulbs?
  • The mast was to be built to a maximum of 30 metres; it would appear that it is now taller than this. We cannot get access to measure the exact height.
  • It was stated that the mast could not be erected anywhere else, this was a nonsense - the areas we suggested included the area near to Foster Wheeler - the European Weather Centre, the underground reservoir off Elm Lane. All rejected because the University needed the mast to be placed on their land to gain the monetary value from the Mobile Phone Companies. It is easy to understand their plans on this.
  • The other option was to put the mast on the site currently housing Sibley Hall - this was rejected because having the mast in an open area (Trees could have been planted to hide the base) would mean the houses would not sell very easily. They did not consider the current owners of the local houses.
  • They have already broken the agreement at the planning appeal over the painting of the mast, which was done without any consultation by the residents of Fulmer Close.
  • The promise that the copse would be handed over to our Town Council for upkeep has also been ignored. The copse is to be part of the sale of land where Sibly Hall is situated and the adjoining playing fields. We have no control over what the developer does with this land. The Town Council say they will monitor the situation but history tells us not to trust these comments.
  • The wild-life has already been affected. Fewer birds are coming to the feeding tables. The family of foxes have gone - just one lone fox is left. There are no longer signs of the stag beetles which were once abundant. The bats have gone - they will not return as the transmitter gives out radio/microwaves which will upset their movements. Trees have been felled, how do we know if they have taken down oaks or other deciduous trees. It is very sad.
  • The effect of the mast on residents of Fulmer Close (road nearest to the mast) are badly affected. A lady who runs a child-care service - will this affect her business? Would you be happy to leave a child where you know radio/ microwaves are being emitted?

The cooling systems will create a "hum" which will be audible from the gardens in the summer. House values have dropped by 10% or on average £30K - and the properties will be much harder to sell.

What to do about all this. Well, we have the support of a local Estate Agent and we are looking at the original agreements from 1947 when the land was bequeathed to the University. We must ensure that the copse is no longer violated in any way and that any future development in the copse is stopped. We need the support of the Town Council - let us see if they have any backbone.

David Storrie.
Fulmer Close Resident.

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