Furious villagers have blasted council bosses over plans to build a huge 5G mast next to a Victorian mansion dubbed the National Trust’s “jewel in the crown”.
Plans have been submitted to erect a 25m (82ft) high telecoms pole on land overlooking the world-famous Cragside House and Gardens.
Clarke Telecom Ltd wants to build a mast on a hill behind Addycombe Farm, adjacent to the 1,000-acre estate in Rothbury, Northumberland.
The telecoms giant, on behalf of Cornerstone which represents the Vodafone and 02 networks, claims it will improve mobile services and deliver the first 5G signal to the area.
But residents and visitors have expressed outrage at the plans, saying the views of the 159-year-old Cragside estate will be “ruined forever” if it goes ahead.
Rothbury councillor Steve Bridgett said: “The impact of this proposal upon this significance needs to be assessed by the applicant before this application can be determined.
“As part of the submission documents, I can find no evidence of this assessment having been carried out or a heritage statement having been produced.
“As a community, we are more than willing to work with the applicant to achieve their objectives and I personally have no objection to better mobile telecoms whether it be in the form of 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G but working with one and other is a two-way street and thus far it would seem the applicant is completely unwilling to consider any suggestions.”
Villagers have also expressed their concern at the proposed location of the mast with some describing it as an “eyesore”.
One said: “We all want better mobile signals. It can be life and death.
“A chap almost died when his car crashed by Cragside in the snow earlier this year and he was trapped all night because he had no phone signal.
“However, the proposal to have the mast looming over Cragside would be an eyesore. The mast would be clearly visible from the house.
“The estate attracts thousands of visitors and is arguably the jewel in the crown for the National Trust.”
Regular visitor Jane Moss, 45, added: “The mast will be visible from almost anywhere in the Cragside estate which would be a great shame.
“At the moment the views stretch for miles and are uninterrupted all the way to the Cheviots.
“A mast really would spoil the view forever. There must be a better site for it.”
The Grade I listed mansion was built by inventor and industrial magnate William Armstrong in 1863.
He used the lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine and in 1870 the house became the first in the world to use hydroelectricity.
Northumberland County Council are expected to rule on the plans to build the mast later this year.
A spokesperson for Clarke Telecom said: “The site is needed to maintain and improve 2G, 3G, 4G coverage and capacity to ensure that customers continue to experience access to the latest service provision currently available and have access to a new 5G network.
“This is because the operator needs to find a replacement for the existing site, which is currently providing 2G, 3G and 4G services but cannot be upgraded for all operator technology requirements for technical reasons.
“The proposed new installation will also meet the extra demands on the network in this area as new technologies improve increasing the demand for 4G and new 5G technologies.
“Cornerstone is limited in siting options as there is a requirement to provide equivalent replacement coverage and capacity for this area of Rothbury.
“The replacement of an existing site means that it has to be located as close as possible to the existing installation in order to maintain the provision of equivalent coverage and capacity to the surrounding local area.
“This is the nearest suitable location that Cornerstone is able to position their replacement apparatus.
“The proposed height at 25m is essential in order to provide equivalent replacement coverage to the target coverage area.
“5G new radio technologies operate in higher frequency bands than older technologies.
“Since it operates at higher frequencies where attenuation of the radio signal is naturally higher, and the effects of clutter are greater it will normally require a higher structure to achieve the same coverage footprint.”