Belfast Telegraph

Planning refused for masts intended to link traders in London and Frankfurt

Plans to boost international high-frequency trading by building two huge communications masts rivalling the height of London's Shard in the countryside have been rejected.

Two companies, New Line Networks (NLN) and Vigilant Global, unsuccessfully sought separately to gain planning permission for the masts close to each other in Richborough, Kent.

It was hoped they would help provide high-speed data links between financial centres in the UK and Europe, cutting milliseconds off trading times between the two key financial hubs of London and Frankfurt.

But the objectors triumphed and councillors on Thursday night rejected the two masts - one at more than 1,000ft (322m) near Richborough Energy Park and the other at 1,000ft (305m) on land north of King's End Farm.

Bernard Butcher, the vice chairman of Dover District Council's planning committee, said the applications were the worst he had seen in 26 years as a councillor.

He said: "They would have been completely and utterly unsightly and out of place in that area, which has got historic remains and where there are special sites of interest."

Frederick Scales, chairman of the planning committee, said: "The harm that was likely to be done to the landscape and the nearby heritage quite clearly was against the national perspective.

"What was missing was any evidence that there would be benefits from a national perspective to the masts. The benefits were deemed to be quite small.

"And if we had given permission to one, we would have to have done the same for the other."

In its submission to the planning committee, Cliffsend Parish Council said the 322m mast would have become a "visual eyesore", adding 80% of houses in the area would see it.

Other concerns were raised over its potential impact on the scheduled Roman site of Richborough and the Grade I-listed Richborough Castle.

And local archaeologists feared it would become the "prominent and defining feature in this view".

Ash Parish Council was among objectors to the 305m-tall mast, citing the impact on the local community, including from construction traffic and on nearby historic buildings.

NLN said its proposal would have served the wireless needs of multiple parties with a single mast, supporting and boosting local community radio, satellite TV, mobile operators and emergency services.

Vigilant Global chose the site of the 322m mast because it is close to an industrial site, was geographically remote and had a history of tall structures due to the area's previous use as a power station.

Proposals put forward included a community trust funded annually by mast revenue, and the setting up of sponsorship and initiatives with schools and community groups.