MOBILE operator 3 has said it is “carefully reviewing” the quashing of its planning appeal for a 66ft (20 metre) mast on Exmoor.

The company, officially called Hutchison 3G UK, had applied to put the Swann Latice tower near Honeymead, just over the Devon border within Exmoor National Park.

The scheme was blocked by the park’s planners in June last year, which prompted an appeal by 3 to the Planning Inspectorate.

But the firm’s hopes of securing a different outcome failed this month after the inspector backed the decision by Exmoor National Park Authority, based on the proposed mast being in an area whose “distinct feature… is the extensive panoramic views of the hills and valleys”.

3 said the site was part of its work on the Shared Rural Network programme, a £1 billion initiative between the Government and the UK’s four mobile network operators, which also includes EE, O2 and Vodafone.

The aim of the scheme is to bring 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK landmass by the end of 2025.

3 said its proposed Exmoor mast would “enhance coverage and provide greater choice for the residents, visitors and businesses of Exmoor”.

“We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and our planners determined that this site was required to deliver it,” a spokesperson for the firm said.

“We are carefully reviewing the inspector’s decision.”

The Government website states that Planning Inspectorate decisions can be challenged in the High Courtif the applicant believes a legal mistake was made, and that any such claim must be submitted within six weeks from the date of the ruling.

In his decision, the inspector said that while 3 considered the potential impact of the mast to be “moderate to slightly adverse”, he considered it would be “an intrusive and eye-catching feature within the area”, and that 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,” he added.

The inspector said 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.”