The application for the mast first came to public notice when WDC put it on their website on 16 May and Mayfield & Five Ashes Society wrote a formal objection against siting and design and encouraged as many individuals as possible to do the same. There followed over 100 objections, and a working group was formed. A petition was organised, representations were made to the Parish Council and many letters of further objection were written to the WDC Planning Department as it became clear that they were not listening to local feelings. The Planning Officer acting under delegated powers APPROVED the application for the mast, exactly as submitted, and refused to allow it to be considered by the elected WDC Planning Committee despite Cllr Brian Redman’s demands. Thank you to the many Mayfield business owners and hundreds of residents who have added their names to the petition protesting the siting and design of the proposed mast.

Since then MaFAS has tried to get the telecoms companies to consider better alternative sites without success, and to get WDC to review their actions and declare the Approval invalid, also without success. What has appalled us all is the useless pre-application consultation with Wealden in December 2016, WDC’s weak acceptance of a dreadful location on one of the two main entries to Mayfield and of such ugly appearance, no public consultation, total disregard of the universal objections and a pathetic planning officer’s report bending over backwards to approve the mast as “acceptable”, despite it not being remotely in accordance with WDC’s own current Design Guide (section 14).

We called a public meeting on 19 July, when about 55 attended, including representatives of High Hurstwood, who fended off their mast, to explore ideas and a collective approach. This was followed up on 2 August when “Plan A” was agreed on to ask CTIL about alternative sites and “Plan B” where the Parish Council have asked the land owner about not selling to CTIL. MaFAS heard that the Parish Council had decided not to write directly to CTIL and, therefore, MaFAS decided at their meeting on 11 August to write a letter from their President to the Chief Executive of CTIL seeking a collaborative approach to achieve their needs and satisfy our community. This has been done. MaFAS also want to have WDC Constitution and Procedures amended so that any mast application in the future must be decided by the Full WDC Planning Committee. MaFAS also want to have the national legislation amended so that telecoms companies MUST listen to local objections on siting and design of any mast nationwide. We intend to approach this through our MP initially.

John Finlay, Mayfield and Five Ashes Society