MSP meets with EE representatives over controversial plans

Kate Forbes - SNP - Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch May 2016. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

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A Skye MSP and representatives from mobile phone giant EE met last week to discuss controversial plans for a new mast in the West Highlands.

The Highland Council’s North Planning Committee approved a plan to build the 30m steel structure last Tuesday.

MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Kate Forbes met with EE last Thursday.

More than 200 people signed a petition objecting to the proposed site at Lochalsh Business Park in Auchtertyre, near Kyle of Lochalsh, stating the mast is too close to a nursery and school and would prefer the mast was situated elsewhere.

Ms Forbes said: ‘I met with a representative from EE to discuss the roll out of masts across Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and specifically to ask why the site at Auchtertyre was chosen in light of community concerns.

‘Planning consent has obviously already been granted by Highland Council but it’s still important EE respects the local community.

‘One of the main concerns is why the current site, which is 400 metres away from residents, was used instead of other sites.

‘We spoke at length about the other sites and what the reasons were and it does appear as though the current site does maximise signal coverage and minimises impact on local residents, however, I’ve asked for even more details to verify that.

‘We also spoke about why there wasn’t sufficient community engagement and on this matter it’s clear a lot more could and should have been done to work with the community to find the right site for everyone.’

EE confirmed to The Oban Times a number of changes have been made to the plans following community feedback.

EE said it was were ‘pleased’ the site had been giving planning approval and highlighted new mobile infrastructure is essential to support an emergency services network in Scotland.

An EE spokesperson said: ‘We are meeting regularly with MSPs to talk through our coverage improvement programmes in Scotland. We recognise the sensitive nature of some of the new sites and are working to ensure new infrastructure is sited as sensitively as possible whilst still providing the required coverage.’