A signal-boosting mobile phone mast will be built on the Invercauld Estate to keep residents connected during extreme weather – despite fears it would be a blot on the landscape.
The 25 metre tall lattice structure will be erected near Daldownie.
National mobile infrastructure firm Cornerstone says the structure is needed as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) scheme, which is supported by the UK Government.
The SRN was established by mobile network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone and aims to deliver 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025.
Cornerstone argued the tower would help to enhance connectivity in rural areas, where mobile coverage can be patchy.
Concerns mobile phone mast would be an ‘eyesore’
However the proposal attracted four objections, including one that claimed the tower location and design was “inappropriate”.
Those opposing the plans also said the structure would have a negative visual impact on the area and cause a potential disturbance to wildlife.
Ballater and Crathie Community Council objected too, raising concerns about the effectiveness of the mast at the proposed location.
Trustees of Invercauld Estate, who own the land, also spoke out against the proposal.
They claimed the mast was “unnecessary” and would only benefit the mobile operators.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Thomson wrote an objection on behalf of the long-established hillwalking and mountaineering group, the Cairngorm Club.
He said members were “surprised” to see proposal and they believed “few if any” Glen Gairn residents would benefit from the mast.
They also raised concerns about the visual aspect of the plan, describing the path to the tower as an “obvious and unnatural scar on the landscape”.
Ballater resident Richard Frimston wrote to the local authority to bemoan the “eyesore”.
Mobile mast ‘vital’ to keep rural residents connected
The application went before members of the Marr area committee recently.
Council senior planner Neil Mair explained the tower would help address a signal “blackspot”.
Councillor Gwyneth Petrie believed the mast was needed to ensure residents could retain mobile signal at all times, especially during extreme weather.
She explained: “Rewind back to some of the storms we’ve had when we completely lost mobile signal.
“Every one of these masts tries to ensure that doesn’t happen again and are so vital to coverage.
“If something happens in that area and people don’t have mobile signal, it could be catastrophic and lead to so many awful situations.
“There’s no magic way of bringing 3G or 4G to these areas, it has to be done through the masts.
“We have to be realistic about the need for them.”
Councillor Jeff Goodhall suggested it be approved but asked that no building work be carried out during the breeding season of important species living in the area.
The committee went on to unanimously back the application.