Mast lights spark anger

MENDLESHAM mast is lighting up the night sky like never before.Brighter lights mean the radio and TV mast can now be seen from miles away across the flat Suffolk landscape - all to ensure it is visible to low-flying aircraft.

MENDLESHAM mast is lighting up the night sky like never before.

Brighter lights mean the radio and TV mast can now be seen from miles away across the flat Suffolk landscape - all to ensure it is visible to low-flying aircraft.

But the new red lights have angered countryside residents, and their case has been taken up by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer.

“I can see the lights from my home and so can many of the people around the area - and it is spoiling Suffolk's countryside,” said Mr Gummer.

“It seems ridiculous that the lights have to be so bright when for many years the mast was lit but much more discreetly and never caused any problems to aircraft who could all see it easily.

“Now we have these horrible bright red lights lighting up our sky and no-one seems to be able to say why the change was necessary.”

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Councillors in the area say they have had complaints, too, about the lights blighting the landscape - some from people living up to ten miles away from the structure, which stands alongside the A140.

One complaint is that people were not told the lights would be changed from low intensity ones to much stronger ones which glare, and so there was no chance to discuss the issue or comment.

The mast falls under new civil aviation legislation passed in 2002 which requires all masts higher than 150 metres to be upgraded with the new high intensity ones. The Civil Aviation Authority is implementing the changes and mast owners have five years to comply.

Bruce Randall, spokesman for broadcasting company Arqiva, which owns the mast, said there had been quite a few complaints about the new lights.

“We have to abide by the new regulations - we have no choice about it,” he said.

“Suffolk is a very flat county which unfortunately means the mast can be seen from some distance.”

Are the lights on Mendlesham mast too bright? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Mendlesham Mast

The mast was put up on the disused airfield in 1959 to broadcast Anglia TV to Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Lincolnshire across the flat landscape.

At the time the 305 metre mast was the tallest TV mast in Europe.

Main TV transmission stopped when in 1985 the old VHF 405 line signal was switched off - today's television operates on 625 lines UHF.

Today it is mostly used for radio broadcasting, broadband. mobile phone technology, but is used for some TV relay transmissions and has been used for Channel 5.

The mast is visible for many miles - as far away as Thetford and Bury St Edmunds, and Rendlesham.