Chronological synopsis of PLACE telecoms work in the Forest of Dean


Jonathan Adamson - Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
 Andrew Darke - Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

A number of artists came together as a result of attending the international "Landscape & Sculpture" symposium, Manchester Polytechnic, 1-3 September 1989. Six artists including Sue Hilder, Ute Kreyman, Anneke Pettican and John Sexton formed the group Art & Place shortly afterwards. PLACE evolved from this group in 1994. Anneke Pettican worked with PLACE until 2001. Dr. Richard Cowell - Research Fellow at the Department of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University and Pamela Day have collaborated closely with PLACE since 1997.

 * The group is a forum for debate and exchange on a variety of issues surrounding art, public art, aesthetics, society, infrastructure,  architecture and the environment.

* The group works on ideas, papers for publication, exhibitions, open meetings and initiatives in these fields.

* New responses and approaches are sought.

* Work is presented by the group, and others, for discussion and constructive criticism.

* Visits are made to sites of interest.

Note: all members have not necessarily been involved in all PLACE projects.

PLACE is an unincorporated association.

December 1995
Work begins on proposals for Mount Stuart Graving Docks, Cardiff Bay - see the synopsis of the ATLAS project on www.atlasplace.clara.net

December 1996       
Andrew Darke initiates, through the Public Art Commissions Agency, Birmingham, a collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners, Consulting Engineers, on a multi-client project to look at ways of reducing the environmental intrusiveness of mobile telephony base stations and infrastructure.

May 1997                  
Arts Council of Great Britain grants £5000 to facilitate the employment of artists' skills on the above project.

June 1998                  
PLACE and Ove Arup organise the "Beauty and the Mast" seminar and issues meeting which brings together the mobile telephony industry, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Countryside Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Council for the Preservation of Rural England, planners, and others, for the first time in relation to this issue.

July 1998                   
PLACE and Ove Arup issue the ASPIRE TO CLEAR HORIZONS prospectus which proposes a cross industry project to reduce the impact of mobile telephony infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

November 1998       
The potential sponsors meeting attended by participants of the "Beauty and the Mast" seminar and issues meeting, results in a revision of the above prospectus. The revised prospectus CLEAR HORIZONS is issued to the mobile telephony industry in March 1999.

April 1999                  
PLACE attends the “Mobiles and the Environment” Conference at the Cumberland Hotel, London and gives a presentation on the need to redress the damage being caused by the industry to the environment.

April 2000                
CLEAR HORIZONS - 'Mobile Telephony and the Environmental Intrusiveness of Base Stations' report by PLACE and Ove Arup and Partners, is published with copies sent to the DETR, conservation and heritage organisations, the mobile telephony industry and the press. Website - www.clearhorizons.fsnet.co.uk

October 2000             
Response to the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR) "Consultation Paper on Telecommunication Mast Development (by Telecommunications Code System Operators)" is returned.

January 2001           
Andrew Darke initiates a collaboration between PLACE, the Forest of Dean District Council and The Countryside Agency which aims to draw the telecomms companies into a special project to reduce the impact of their infrastructure on the environment of the Forest of Dean.

February 2001         
PLACE submits a response to the Scottish Executive's "Consultation Paper on Telecommunications Mast Development - November 2000."

February 2001        
ASPIRE TO CLEAR HORIZONS and CLEAR HORIZONS documents become available on the Technical Indexes Ltd. Planning CD-Rom.

April 2001                
Jonathan Adamson writes to the Chairman of the Peak National Park outlining a number of ideas and suggestions that would reduce the impact of high voltage power transmission, initially in the Hazelhead, Longdendale area of the park, but with potential applications in other National Parks, AONB and the UK as a whole.

1 June 2001              
SKY MAP (balloon release). Commissioned by PLACE to coincide with the official opening of Cardiff Bay Barrage. Adrian Holme's and Hana Sakuma's collaborative performance/event offers an alternative experience to the erasure, enclosure and consumerism embodied in the development of Cardiff Bay. 

1 August 2001          
ATLAS website goes online - www.atlasplace.clara.net

11 August­ - 2 September 2001
ATLAS project presented at Galleri 21, Radmansgatan 5, 211 46 Malmo, Sweden as part of the exhibition "River, Estuary, Ocean."

September 2001       
Scottish Executive Development Department publishes Planning Advice Note 62 (PAN 62) on Radio Telecommunications. PLACE's help is acknowledged by Senior Planner, Ben Train.

September 2002      
Director of Planning for the Forest of Dean District Council (FoDDC), Jim Stewart, acknowledges PLACE's help on the new Supplementary Planning Guidance for Telecommunications Masts. The new Guidance will be sent to companies wishing to erect new telecomms installations in the Forest of Dean.

July 2003                     
The Countryside Agency organises a meeting in the Forest of Dean in response to PLACE's telecomms initiative, which brings together a range of interested parties.

October 2003 – March 2004
Negotiations between PLACE, Forest of Dean District Council and the Countryside Agency to facilitate a project to reduce the impact of telecomms infrastructure on the community and landscape in the FoD. The project co-lead by Councillor Stephen McMillan and PLACE is adopted by the Council on 19/2/2004

April 2004                   
PLACE submits written evidence to apMobile the Parliamentary Inquiry into Planning Law as it Affects the Siting of Mobile Phone Masts.

“Dinch me dark God” exhibition, discussion group and slide show by Jonathan Adamson and Pamela Day, April 2nd-4th at Field House.

May 2004                     
PLACE gives oral evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry.

June 2004                      
orest of Dean District Council Telecomms Mast Working Group first full meeting.

PLACE accepts £6K funding offered by the Countryside Agency to help produce a Telecommunications Infrastructure Study for the FoDDC area.

August 2004                 
As a result of a correspondence about the impact of high voltage transmission lines in the landscape between PLACE (initiated by Jonathan Adamson) and the National Grid, PLACE is invited to meet National Grid Transco.

September 2004         
PLACE accepts an invitation from the “Friends of the Lake District” to their “Overhead Wires Planning Seminar.”

November 2004          
PLACE meets with the National Grid to discuss their “Surface Trough” undergrounding system.

January 2005               
PLACE meets representatives of the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) at Woodhead in the Peak District National Park to discuss PLACE’s proposals for potential environmental improvements for the Longdendale Valley.

March 2005                  
“Open Meeting” organised by PLACE and hosted by Tam Giles at St. James Studios, London. Six people gave presentations.

March - May 2005       
PLACE  meets again with the CPRE – for ongoing discussions re the Longdendale Valley and is invited to submit a proposal

August 2005                
PLACE meets the Chief Executive, England of the Forestry Commission to discuss the “Views, Vistas and Reverie” research and the initiation of a ‘best practice’ project of camouflaging for telecoms base stations on FC land.






Article by Andrew Darke "Art & Place: Cardiff Bay" in "ECOS. A Review of Conservation," Vo1.16 No.1, 1995.

July 1998                      
PUBLIC:ART:SPACE, a book published by Public Art Commissions Agency (Merrell Holberton, London), includes the ATLAS project in its chapter "A strategy for public art in Cardiff Bay." The book documents a decade of PACA's advocacy, and commissioning, of art for public spaces.

August 2000                
"alias" (artist led initiative advisory service) publication, documenting a pilot project, includes information on PLACE's contact with the service. The publication also uses a photograph on its cover of the pre-barrage tidal mud in Mount Stuart Graving Docks, Cardiff Bay, taken by Andrew Darke. The publication was commissioned by South West Arts and produced by Stroud Valleys Artspace.

February 2001              
ASPIRE TO CLEAR HORIZONS and CLEAR HORIZONS documents become available on the Technical Indexes Ltd. Planning CD-Rom.

June 2001                       
"Landscape Research," Vol. 26 No.1, publishes a polemic by Tim Hall and Iain Robertson - "Public Art and Urban Regeneration: advocacy, claims and critical debates" - which includes a number of references to Andrew Darke's "ECOS" article. (See above.)

Januarv 2003                  
Dr. Richard Cowell’s report “The Scope for Undergrounding Overhead Electricity Lines” (commissioned by Friends of the Lake District from the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development), reproduces two of PLACE's photographs of National Grid's 400Kv open trough system, in use at Woodhead, within the Peak National Park, for approximately 1/4 mile.

PLACE contends that the Woodhead, ground level, Surface Trough System (STS) could be deployed more extensively by National Grid, particularly in and around National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The STS dramatically reduces the intrusiveness of the National Grid.

September 2005           
“Views, Vistas and Reverie” – A Photographic Survey of the Intrusion of Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Landscape of the Forest of Dean is published.






Andrew Darke, Field House, Yorkley Wood, Nr. Lydney, Glos. GL15 4TU, UK      
tel. +44 (0)1594 562646     
e.mail: place@clearhorizons.fsnet.co.uk  ;  andrew@yorkleywood.freeserve.co.uk

Jonathan Adamson;  Tower House, Cemetery Road, Edgerton, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 5NF    UK    
tel. +44 (0)1484 536103







Chronological synopsis of PLACE telecoms work in the Forest of Dean

(see also PLACE )

November 2000      
The Countryside Agency’s (CA) proposed new landscape designation for the Forest of Dean inspires PLACE to contact the Forest of Dean District Council’s (FoDDC) Chief Planner, Jim Stewart and Val Kirby of CA to discuss how to limit the significant and steadily increasing impact of mobile telephone infrastructure in the landscape before the new designation, which should restrain this problem, is active. PLACE’s intention is that the “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted” scenario should be avoided.

January 2001            
PLACE organises a meeting between Diana Organ MP (Forest of Dean), Val Kirby and Jim Stewart (didn’t attend owing to the overrun of another meeting). PLACE proposes a project, to be backed by CA, FoDDC and the MP asking the mobile operators to do a better job for the Forest of Dean owing to its potential new designation.

February 2001         
Further contact between PLACE and Jim Stewart begins a collaboration with PLACE assisting the planning dept. with the revision of its DRAFT POLICIES FOR INCLUSION IN SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING GUIDANCE ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS MASTS.

August 2001             

October 2001           
JS finds the revision “a bit too radical” saying that the inspector who will trawl the Council’s new local plan (which will include the guidance) is likely to object. Nevertheless much of PLACE’s work will stand. JS is very favourable towards trying to draw the companies into a special project for the Forest of Dean with the help of the CA. A phone conversation with Jeremy Worth (CA) reveals that its infrastructure priorities lie with reduction of impacts of overhead power lines and the siting of wind farms. The considerable impact of mobile phone infrastructure seems to be low priority.

January 2002            
Val Kirby (VK) agrees to draft a letter (to be co-signed by Jim Stewart and Diana Organ) to the mobile operators. CA’s new designation (then called the Cultural Landscape Plan - subsequently Integrated Rural Devevelopment (IRD)) will take some 2-3 years to develop and it is worth alerting the companies now. VK suggests that there may be some CA funds to support PLACE’s work. VK’s draft arrives and PLACE makes amendments and returns it with a fee proposal.

February 2002         

April 2002                
PLACE contacts Louise Thornhill (LT) the regional director of CA Southwest asking why there has been no action on the letter (no further mention of fees for PLACE either). VK has been on sick leave and annual leave and is very busy. A partnership lead by FoDDC needs to be established and CA is awaiting its thoughts.

July 2002                   
JS meets LT, VK and tells PLACE that a letter will be written to the mobile operators asking for their co-operation.

October 2002           
PLACE sends images of a new Orange mast at Pillowell (see Pillowell) to JS pointing out the problems of gloss paint and lack of paint on the antennae etc. PLACE contacts the southwest Regional Office of the Forestry Commission (FC) to ask if it would support a best practice project on its land. It is interested in the idea but the time is not right.

December 2002       
JS thanks PLACE for the info. on the Orange mast and says he has passed the material on to his officers and they will take it up with Orange. He says the FoDDC is waiting for VK to write the letter.

January 2003            
PLACE contacts LT to discover why VK has not written the letter. LT says that there does not seem to be enough support from the FoDDC. This directly contradicts PLACE’s knowledge and JS, when phoned, says he will put the CA right. FoDDC does want to go ahead.

March 2003              
PLACE contacts Diana Organ MP and she writes to the CA asking for action. A letter is sent by VK to all the mobile phone companies calling for a meeting. JS retires from his position as chief planner with FoDDC.

April 2003                
PLACE contacts the Deputy Surveyor of the Forestry Commission (chief officer) in the FoD. He is sympathetic to PLACE’s aims but says that with respect to design of masts the FC goes along with the views of the local planners. PLACE discovers that one of the planning officers in charge of telecoms matters has not seen the new SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING GUIDANCE! The officer is sure that it was not sent out to Airwave, the company responsible for the installation of the new TETRA emergency services system. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the revised SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING GUIDANCE was never sent out.

July 2003                   
VK chairs a telecoms issues meeting attended by all the mobile phone companies, PLACE, Lydbrook Residents Association, Councillor Stephen McMillan, France and Lewis International Ltd. (mast manufacturers), two representatives from the County Council, a Forestry Commission representative and two local residents from St. Briavels. Many problems are aired and the representatives of the mobile companies are unanimous in their dismay at the poor treatment local residents have received from their companies. They pledge to do better: “tell us what you(the community) want” bears the clear implication that they will be more responsive in future. VK gets promotion in the CA.

October 2003 – March 2004
Negotiations between PLACE, Forest of Dean District Council and the Countryside Agency to facilitate a project to reduce the impact of telecomms infrastructure on the community and landscape in the FoD. The project, co-lead by Councillor Stephen McMillan and PLACE, is adopted by the Council on 19/2/2004.

October 2003           
With “tell us what you want” ringing in its ears PLACE writes to Orange asking for improvements to its Pillowell mast. Orange asks for the opinion of the local planners and says “please bear in mind that the reason the antennae themselves are not painted is that this would interfere with the efficient operation of the site.”

Councillor Stephen McMillan confirms that we should work through and with the Planning Department and forwards the e.mail correspondence to planning officer Clive Reynolds.

January 2004            
PLACE contacts Orange to ask about progress on improvements to the Pillowell mast and pursues a definitive statement on the painting of antennae from CA’s retained telecoms expert, Henry Dolan. Orange is still awaiting comments from the lpa.

March 2004              
CA sends PLACE a copy of “Minimising the Visual Impact of Cellular Base Stations” by Henry Dolan. It states in paragraph 4.4 “Operators frequently object to the painting of their aerials due to increased attenuation of the radio signals and consequent degradation of network performance. This has been investigated and discussion with aerial manufacturers indicates that losses are minimal provided they undertake such coating themselves. Paints should have a low metal or carbon content and should always be identified by a RAL specification. This can be verified by consulting BSI. The manufacturers consider that any subsequent painting might void their performance guarantee. Once again a medium to grey or olive drab would be suitable.”

March – June 2004  
Preliminary meetings of the Telecoms Mast Working Group.

April 2004                
CA offers to help fund PLACE’s photographic survey of the impact of telecoms infrastructure in the FoD landscape.

June 2004                  
Forest of Dean District Council Telecomms Mast Working Group (TMWG) first full meeting. PLACE accepts £6K funding offered by the Countryside Agency to help produce a Telecommunications Infrastructure Survey for the FoDDC area and begins work.

September 2004   
After a presentation from PLACE about potential improvements (use of matt paint instead of gloss on the mast, green/brown paint on the antennae and on the equipment cabins, planting of indigenous tree species around the compound. See Pillowell) to the Orange Pillowell mast, the West Dean Parish Council agrees to write to Sean Hannaby (new chief planner at FoDDC) asking him to write to Orange asking for the improvements to be implemented.

October 2004           
The FC agrees in principal to help fund the next phase of PLACE’s photographic survey of the impact of telecoms infrastructure in the landscape of the FoD. TMWG works on a new more robust revision of the SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING GUIDANCE ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS MASTS (approved by the Development Control Working Group 23/5/2005)

November 2004      
PLACE learns that because of a government claw-back of funds from the FC it cannot part fund the photographic survey this financial year. Despite repeated contacts with Orange over six months asking where there are examples of base stations built into street lighting, no information is forthcoming.

January 2005          
TMWG produces a list of actions including writing a letter to Orange asking for improvements to their Pillowell mast (see also p94-5). TMWG concludes its first phase of work having had a total of six meetings. PLACE recognises that its original intentions in establishing a local project (see November 2000) have not been met, principally as a result of the low priority given to landscape quality by the FoDDC and the low priority given to telecoms issues by the CA causing delays, misunderstandings and lack of focus. Work on the The Photographic Survey continues.

July 2005                   
PLACE is notified by the Planning Department that a letter asking for improvements to the Pillowell mast has been written to Orange.

August 2005                 
PLACE meets Forestry Commission, England to discuss the “Views, Vistas and Reverie” research and the initiation of a ‘best practice’ project reducing the impact of telecoms base stations on FC land.

September 2005         
The Forestry Commission invites PLACE to work with them on a ‘best practice’ project.

October 2005           
FoDDC planning dept. tells PLACE that Orange has declined to do further work on their Pillowell mast. The true nature of the “tell us what you want” pledge from Orange representatives on 14/7/2003 is thus revealed.

November 2005       
The “Views, Vistas and Reverie” research available online – www.viewsvistasandreverie.org






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