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High-speed internet plans for Salford rejected after hundreds object to six 50ft masts

The masts would have used radio devices to offer full-fibre broadband.

<p>A similar high-speed internet mast, here installed in Blackburn. Credit: Google maps</p>

A similar high-speed internet mast, here installed in Blackburn. Credit: Google maps

Six high-speed internet masts have been refused planning permission after hundreds of Salford residents objected – but they could be built anyway.

The 15m (50ft) masts would offer full-fibre broadband using radio devices.

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IX Wireless, the company behind the plans, offers ‘ultra-fast gigabit capable broadband’ at competitive prices using ‘cutting edge’ wireless technology.

Fibre-optic cables run up the masts and small WiFi distributors with a 1km range would allow customers to connect to the network from their homes.

Salford Council officers said that the company can build the masts without planning permission – but the antennae at the top do require prior approval.

What has the firm said?

Speaking on behalf of the company, planning manager Joanne Kay said IX Wireless would wire properties to the mast if the antennae were not allowed.

She said: “We firmly believe that the network will provide significant benefits to the residents of Salford and not only will the service offer increased consumer choice, but the services will be competitively priced and offer real value for money.

“We believe that our network will deliver real value to the residents of Salford and offer savings of over £144 over a typical contract length.”

The company offers a ‘guaranteed’ internet speed of 100MB for £21.99 per month, which it claims compares favourably with competitors in Salford.

People with poor credit ratings who may be excluded from contracts with other internet service providers can access the IX Wireless network and around 20 pc of its network is offered for free to those who are in need.

What were the objections?

But the planning panel did not accept the Blackburn-based company’s pitch.

Residents described the metallic masts – of which four were planned in the Eccles with another two proposed in Swinton – as ‘monstrous structures’.

Some said the masts have caused ‘distress’ to the detriment of mental health.

Conservative councillor Robin Garrido accused the company of not consulting properly with those affected – a complaint which many residents repeated.

Eccles councillor Sharmina August disputed claims made by the company urging the panel not to be swayed by a ‘narrative of improving infrastructure’.

She said: “This is here to provide competition and line providers pockets with money. We are not here to do what is best for companies. We are here to do what is best for our residents.”

Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long Bailey also objected to the applications in her constituency at the planning panel meeting on Thursday 16 December.

The Labour MP said the company did not provide sufficient evidence in the plans to show that they had considered alternative sites for the new masts.

She also shared examples of other local authorities in Greater Manchester who have refused planning permission for similar masts by this company.

She said: “If it’s good enough for councillors in Bolton to object to, then frankly, it could be done in Salford today. And I hope that’s what you do.”

The planning panel refused permission for all six applications by IX Wireless.