A bid to install a 50-foot high telephone mast on Waverley Bridge has been thrown out by planners at Edinburgh Council over concerns about the impact on the city’s World Heritage status.
CK Hutchison Holdings, which owns mobile network Three, applied for permission to site the 5G mast by the entrance to Waverley Mall just off Princes Street, arguing there is a “specific requirement” for installation on the bridge to ensure the city centre is provided with a strong phone signal.
In documents submitted to the council the company said the visual impact of the 15-metre pole would be “minimised through careful siting”.
And whilst planners have given the go ahead to several new transmitters throughout the city to aid the roll-out of 5G, they refused the request to install one in the heart of the Capital in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A local resident who objected to the plans said they had to check the date as they thought it was “an April Fool sick joke on Edinburgh residents”.
They added: “Are the applicants serious with this 15 metre high monstrosity in a World Heritage Site and Conservation Area? How splendid it would look.
“There are very many references to the many advantages of the application to ‘the operator’ but no mention of the appalling damage to the cityscape that would citizens would have to live with.”
Meanwhile Edinburgh heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association said: “The proposed telecommunications equipment would result in excessive visual and physical clutter within the streetscape.
“We understand the essential requirement for modern telecommunications infrastructure in our city and its importance to residents.
“However, we believe that, in consultation with local stakeholders, the proposed apparatus should be located in a more inconspicuous location or disaggregated into smaller, less conspicuous arrays if this is achievable.”
The telecoms firm argued the installation was required on Waverley Bridge to ‘fill a gap’ in network coverage in the area.
It said: “The site needs to cover a certain target coverage area as there is currently little to no coverage in the area for this operator and where there is currently coverage, the operator is experiencing capacity issues.”
However, the council ruled the mast “would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance” on the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site and conservation area.