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Chelmo mast would be a phoney

PUBLISHED: 12:06 26 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:43 03 March 2010

IS it a tree, is it a phone mast - yes, but it's a phoney!

So as to not make a blot on the Chelmondiston landscape, mobile phone company Orange has applied for permission to put up a 20-metre high tree look-alike to camouflage a communications mast.

IS it a tree? No, it's a phoney!

So as to not make a blot on the Chelmondiston landscape, mobile phone company Orange has applied for permission to put up a 20-metre high tree look-alike to camouflage a communications mast.

Orange Personal Communications Ltd hopes to install the plastic dead tree at the Little Barns nursery, close to the main road and a group of pensioners' bungalows.

The site is on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Orange claims to have introduced a number of pioneering initiatives designed to ensure their transmitters fit into the local environment.

The company says it was the first mobile network in Europe to produce a radio mast in the shape of a tree and these are now in place across the UK.

However, Orange was not the first company in the world to use the tree disguise.

A spokeswoman for Swindon-based Lucent Technologies said her organisation had also come up with a disguise for Saudi Telecom – in the shape of a palm tree.

But whether the residents of Chelmondiston, who are not used to 20-metre tall trees, dead or alive, in the open countryside around the Shotley Peninsula, will find the Orange suggestion acceptable remains to be seen.

Barnes-Rennison Ltd, agents for Orange, had previously consulted Chelmondiston Parish Council about another possible site on a farm, this time for a mast disguised as a food hopper.

But, said parish clerk Elizabeth King, councillors had rejected the idea because the site was in an Area of Outstanding National Beauty, and the proposal was withdrawn.

Parish councillors are to hold a special meeting tonight to discuss affordable housing.

However, they are expected to be asked to consider the new application because of the tight deadline needed for a response to the planning authority, which will be needed before their next scheduled full parish council meeting on October 15.

The application will be decided by Babergh District Council at a later date.

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