U-turn over comms mast next to Harpenden school

PUBLISHED: 07:08 03 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

NETWORK Rail has agreed to change the location of a communications mast in light of concerns over it being situated near to a school playground. Harpenden MP Peter Lilley raised issues about the communications mast being situated in Aysgarth Close, very n

NETWORK Rail has agreed to change the location of a communications mast in light of concerns over it being situated near to a school playground.

Harpenden MP Peter Lilley raised issues about the communications mast being situated in Aysgarth Close, very near to the playground of St Dominic RC primary school.

He said: "When Network Rail wrote to me with details of their original proposal, I contacted the school and local residents. The head teacher of St Dominic was concerned that the trackside mast would be very close to the school, and though most people in the area raised no objections, a number did express concerns."

He asked if the mast could be moved away from the school playground and Network Rail have now agreed to place it about 120 metres away, in the confines of the train station.

The mast is part of a national railway communications system which Network Rail is in the process of rolling out across the country. The unified communications system was a key recommendation of reports into several rail accidents, including the Cullen Report into the Ladbroke Grove disaster.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: "The masts being installed by Network Rail will allow direct and continuous communication between train drivers and signallers, considerably improving safety, reliability and punctuality for all passengers.

"When selecting a site for communications masts we take great care to evaluate the local environment and community issues, as well as choosing a site which meets our operational requirements."

He said that Network Rail looked at a number of locations across Harpenden and found the site in Aysgarth Close to be the preferred option. However, he confirmed that they decided to move it to the station car park following feedback.

The spokesperson added that emissions from the mast will be well within recommended limits and safety standards, and also stressed it will not be used by commercial telecoms companies.

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