DCAN 14: Siting and Design of Radio Telecommunication Equipment
New Ground Based Masts
3.26 Developing a new ground-based mast should only be considered when other options are not possible or where it represents a better environmental solution. In order to minimise the visual and environmental impact the following should be considered;
- Placing a mast near to similar structures will minimise contrast so that the overall effect is not cluttered. For example, industrial and commercial premises, pylons and lampposts.
- Locating a mast within an existing group of trees and/or planting new trees and shrubs can help integrate it into the landscape. The edges of woodlands can be particularly suitable locations for new masts. To ensure long-term screening new planting around the site should be provided. Alternatively woodland or existing groups of trees around the site could be purchased and managed to retain screening.
- New planting will not however be appropriate in all landscapes. It may need to be extensive in some landscapes to avoid appearing as an isolated block that emphasises the mast. On some exposed sites where there are no trees and screen planting is impractical, consideration should be given to disguising the equipment or using other landscape features to help conceal it.
- Masts, which have complex designs, are more likely to dominate, and discord with, the landscape and have adverse visual impact. Slim-line monopoles appear as simple wellproportioned installations and are often a good solution. They are however generally not suitable for sharing and their overall simplicity and balanced proportion may be lost by installing additional antennas. To support a number of antenna systems a larger mast is usually required. A simple mast that minimises the amount of visual information will generally be perceived as more acceptable.
- Appropriate colouring; Masts seen against the sky, for example, are best left in their galvanised state or painted pale grey. Against a wooded backdrop a matt green or brown colour scheme is generally more appropriate.
- In complex rural landscapes with many vertical features, dispersing masts may minimise impact. In rural landscapes devoid of vertical features concentrating masts at one point may be preferable.
- A mast that breaks the skyline or is sited on a prominent ridge is generally not desirable as it creates a visual focus, which draws the eye away from the natural landscape. The best location in many mountainous and hilly landscapes will be on the lower valley sides. This will help provide a backcloth when viewed from the valley floor.
Spreading masts throughout a large open landscape may extend the impact over a wider area than site or mast sharing.
Spreading masts throughout a landscape with many existing landscape elements may have less impact than site or mast sharing.