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Replacement mast approved for council car park to help emergency services communicate

By Kerry Ashdown | Cannock | News | Published:

A 30m-tall mast is set to be installed in a council car park to help emergency services communicate.

A Google Street View image of the Brunswick Road Car Park in Cannock where a new communications mast is set to be installed

A base station on the roof of Cannock Market Hall Car Park currently provides communications coverage for emergency services. But electronic communications operator Airwave Solutions has been given notice to quit the site by the end of September.

The operator was given the green light to install replacement equipment on land at Brunswick Road Car Park by Cannock Chase Council’s planning committee on Wednesday. An additional condition was added however, requiring the metal railings around the mast to be painted green.

The proposals include a cabin, support steelwork, electricity meter cabinets, antennas, dishes, GPS antenna and palisade fencing as well as a 30m tall mast.

A supporting document submitted to the council as part of the application said: “The council plan to demolish and ultimately redevelop the (Market Hall Car Park) site.

“As a result, to remove the equipment without a suitable replacement site would leave the emergency services with no communications service whatsoever in town, which if nothing else given the current security threat level coupled with the coronavirus pandemic is non-negotiable and clearly is not an option.

“A fully functioning and operational Airwave system is therefore of overriding importance to the security of state and the general public in and around Cannock town centre, and the personal duties of those officers employed to carry out those often onerous and dangerous duties on behalf of state and public.”

The application was recommended for approval by planning officers ahead of Wednesday’s committee meeting.

There are already masts in operation on the roof of the nearby Civic Centre. But a report to the planning committee said it would not be possible to install Airway’s equipment there too

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“On top and around the lift motor and plant room is a significant array of antennas that amongst others already provide services for EE and wifi companies”, the report said.

“The remaining space on the rooftop become extremely limited and would be an issue in proposing to accommodate Airwave‘s three antennas, transmission dish and controlling equipment given the operational and technical specifications that require minimum separation distances must be maintained between operators’ antennas in both the horizontal and vertical plane. If these distances are not maintained, then there will be what is termed ‘destructive interference’ between the operators’ equipment, meaning that neither’s base station will function.

“The applicant further justifies the proposal stating that if the building were able to support such a structure, add to that that during the 8-10 week build period, all existing operators equipment would have to be turned off for construction workers safety, then it can be understood why it is neither practical or possible for the emergency services provider’s equipment to be sited on the building.”

Kerry Ashdown

By Kerry Ashdown

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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