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Durham mast vote delayed
A DECISION on whether a 22m-high radio mast should be erected at an electricity substation has been delayed, amid a row over public consultation.
Northern Powergrid wants to install a 22m-high galvanised steel lattice tower at Potterhouse substation, on Front Street, Pity Me, Durham.
Durham County Council’s central and east area planning committee debated the issue at County Hall on Wednesday. Planning officers had recommended the scheme be approved.
However, councillors voted to defer a decision after Framwellgate Moor county councillor Mark Wilkes raised concerns over consultation with local residents.
Coun Wilkes said at a meeting involving himself, planning officials and Northern Powergrid representatives, an undertaking had been given to erect a temporary 22m-high structure, take photographs of it and for these to be exhibited at a public consultation event.
It was hoped this would allow residents to make an informed decision on whether to object to the plans.
However, although the structure was erected and photos were taken, no such consultation event was staged.
Coun Wilkes was unable to say who had promised to organise the event.
Planning officer James Taylor said he could not recall any undertaking being given.
Northern Powergrid had been hugely co-operative throughout the process and the council was not required to circulate information such as photographs, he added.
A Northern Powergrid representative said he had been willing to meet residents to discuss the plans and had offered to erect the structure and take photographs but no arrangements had come back to him regarding a consultation event.
Coun Paul Taylor, chairing the meeting, said: “We seem to have missed an opportunity to consult with local residents.
“It’s regrettable. I’m not going to get into blame culture.”
Coun Wilkes said the photos were not even placed on the council website and this ‘leaves a sour taste in the mouth’.
Coun John Moran proposed deferring the decision, saying: “We’ve got to be doing this right.”
Coun Jan Blakey seconded the motion and it was passed by seven votes to one.
It is now expected that, rather than a consultation event being staged, the photographs will be circulated to nearby residents.
At least nine residents objected to the proposal.
There is already a 32m-high pylon at the substation.