Uproar over Mendlesham mast

RED sky at night, shepherd's delight, goes the saying, but villagers have been left anything but ecstatic over the glaring lights blighting their night skies.

RED sky at night, shepherd's delight, goes the saying, but villagers have been left anything but ecstatic over the glaring lights blighting their night skies.

For new safety rules have meant bright red lights have to shine at night from the Mendlesham mast and can be seen by residents more than 10 miles away.

The lighting has been upgraded on the 305m-high mast off the A140 - which was put up to transmit television signals - to comply with civil aviation legislation, but residents claimed it was now a night-time eyesore.

Matthew Hicks, from Worlingworth, near Framlingham, said: “The tower is like a blot on the landscape at night. I live 10 miles away and I have never noticed the mast and suddenly it is everywhere I go.

“I understand there is a group forming, trying to organise itself, and maybe something can be done under light pollution and environmental health laws. Rural Suffolk has no light pollution and this is light pollution on the highest level.''

Andrew Stringer, the Green Mid Suffolk district councillor for Mendlesham, said he had had been inundated with people contacting him concerned about the new lighting on the mast - which is used by Vibe FM, as well as television and mobile phone companies, private mobile radio firms such as taxi companies, digital radio, and various public sector and safety organisations.

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Mr Stringer added he had contacted the council's enforcement officers over the lighting, which can be seen by people living in the heart of Ipswich.

“I have had complaints from as far afield as Thurston, eight miles away. There has been no discussion about this locally, we should have been consulted at least,” he said.

Terry Sanders, spokeswoman for the mast's owners, Arqiva, said: “We didn't have any option, but to comply with civil aviation legislation.

“The previous lights that were on the mast were low intensity and were not as bright as they were once, having been installed in 1997.

“The new lights are medium intensity, as required by law, and naturally, being brand new, are working at full capacity.

“We have had to upgrade lights on all our masts over 150 metres all round the country. Mendlesham is one of nine sites that are being upgraded this year.

“Arqiva is very sorry that this has caused such distress to some residents, but, unfortunately, there was no alternative.”