Redbraes residents are up in arms about a new telecommunications mast, which appeared this summer on the south side of Broughton Road. 

They find its positioning insensitive and disrespectful, as it stands 17.5m tall, towering from the other side of a wall over the adjacent Gretna Memorial in listed Rosebank Cemetery.

Locals wonder how anyone could have been so crass as to site the mast here. They wonder who in authority could have granted permission for it. 

Spurtle investigated. 

Site for sore eyes

This is not the first telecoms mast in Broughton Road. Another one appeared over the road in 2010, and was reported by us in Issue 186

In 2018, Telefoníca UK and Vodafone Ltd gave prior notification of intention for a new mast on 8 June (Ref. 18/02850/PNT). They said they wanted to combine forces, remove the old 15m mast, and install a taller one 26m southeast of 179A Broughton Road.

They spoke of an ‘existing site’ and gave its grid reference as 325998.675612. This identified a position on the North side of Broughton Road next to Redbraes Park.

In support of the application, Telefoníca and Vodafone also supplied a site plan, and before and after visualisations. All showed the Redbraes side of the road.

And if anyone’s still in any doubt about where the ‘existing site’ was until recently, a quick look at Google Street View (May 2018) soon clears things up. Here is the South side. Here is the North side.

Out of place

Interestingly, whereas the 2010 application promised that the original mast would avoid interrupting ‘as many sensitive viewpoints as possible’ and not damage residential amenity, the latest application made no such assurances.

However, in due course, Edinburgh Council’s Planning Department determined that the mast was permitted development, as they were pretty much bound to do under Schedule 1, Article 3, Part 20, Class 67 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 (as amended).

But the new mast was eventually not built where the Council was told it would be, and the old mast is still in position (see second photo above).

Spurtle suspects all this has more to do with cock-up than conspiracy, but it still looks to us like a breach of planning control. Time will tell.

Next steps

Locals concerns have had a mixed response so far.

On a confusing note, they’ve been told by a representative from Ericsson (which maintains at least one of the masts) that the site has been in situ since 2011. Which it hasn’t. Ericssons paperwork refers to the old site, not the new one.

On a positive note, they’ve been assured by a different representative from Ericsson that there is no danger to human health from a telecom mast unless you’re within 8.5m of the top.

All of which offers no comfort to those offended by the siting of a mast that distracts from and diminishes the solemnity of a much cherished war memorial. 

We understand locals have already contacted Ben Macpherson MSP for help, and will be in touch with Leith Central Community Council, Deidre Brock MP, Edinburgh Council’s Planning Enforcement, and others, shortly. 

Watch this space for further developments.

Got a view? Tell us at and @theSpurtle



North Pilrig Heights