MOBILE giant 3’s appeal against a planning refusal for a mast on Exmoor has been thrown out.

The firm, officially called Hutchison 3G UK, had applied to put a 20 metre high Swann Latice tower on a site within Exmoor National Park near Honeymead, which is just over the county border in Devon, between Bampton and Wiveliscombe.

Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA), which oversees the park, had refused the application in June last year, but the mobile firm appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

However, at the ENPA’s latest planning meeting this month, the Planning Inspectorate has dismissed the appeal, deciding that protecting the character and appearance of the appeal site outweighs the need for the mast.

The inspector said the site was positioned on a hillside and that the proposed mast and its related equipment would be amid an area whose “distinct feature… is the extensive panoramic views of the hills and valleys”.

He added that nearby settlements and farmsteads were “mostly upon lower land or tucked down within valleys”, and that the absence of development on the higher ground “gives it a remote, expansive quality”.

“Although the mast would be near mature trees, given its height and position, high up upon a hillside, it would be visible from long distances away, including from a variety of public rights of way and viewpoints,” the inspector said.

“The mast would be the lowest height that would provide coverage for the operator, but despite this it would be taller than the nearby woodland trees, and also taller than those within the hedgebanks that delineate the track and road.

“Whilst the appellant considers the landscape and visual impacts of the scheme would be moderate to slightly adverse, the mast would be an intrusive and eye-catching feature within the area, and it would be particularly visible from views from the south and also from the higher land to the north and east.

“The impact of the mast would be such that it would be experienced from very long distances away, such as when approaching Simonsbath from Blue Gate.”

The inspector added that the mobile firm had not made it clear whether more suitable sites were available, and stated that there were already two nearby masts, although 3 had discounted so-called mast sharing.

It was acknowledged that if this mast went ahead, it would provide 4G connectivity to the area, and that this would benefit the local population.

“However, there would be short, medium and long-distance views of the mast, and it would appear intrusive, introducing a conspicuously modern man-made landmark structure in a prominent location that would unacceptably erode the landscape and scenic beauty of the National Park,” the inspector added.

“Given my findings, the mast would unacceptably harm the distinct character and appearance of the area, and the harms to the landscape and scenic beauty of the National Park would be unacceptable and wide ranging.

“These substantial harms would not be outweighed by the need for the installation to be sited as proposed taking into account other alternative sites.”