Where it stands: The antenna in Sandy’s *Photo supplied
Where it stands: The antenna in Sandy’s *Photo supplied

Telecoms giant Digicel has been taken to task by planners for setting up an antenna without the correct planning permission.

The cellphone antenna at Westover Farm off Greenfield Lane in Sandy’s has been decommissioned, but it remains on site.

The infraction has sparked concern from some local residents who contacted the Department of Planning when the antenna arrived on site without warning earlier this summer.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, told the Sun that locals should have been aware of the planned installation. The resident added: “The first thing we knew about it was when they brought it onto the land on August. We were not told anything about it before that.

Concerns

“We also have health and safety concerns about a cellphone antenna being placed so close to a school. Although it has been folded down now we still do not know what is going to happen in the future.

“We believe that if Digicel want to apply for planning permission it should be retroactive permission, which is more expensive, because the mobile unit has been on the land for more than 28 days.”

The initial application submitted to planning for the development was detailed as a ‘proposed new meter for external equipment’.

This is a Permitted Development Permit that can be fast-tracked through planning without the need for public consultation. The infraction is that the meter was used to power a portable cellphone tower, which requires a regular grant of planning permission.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning told the Bermuda Sun: “Digicel was informed of the need for planning permission for the cellphone antenna. Digicel has decommissioned the tower but has not yet removed it from the location.

‘It requires planning permission’

“Digicel is preparing an application for planning permission. It is not yet submitted. Erection of the structure is considered ‘development’ under the Development and Planning Act 1974 and, as such, it requires planning permission. 

“The breach is the failure to get planning permission.”

Planners told the Sun that if Digicel seek planning permission for the cellphone antenna it will be processed in the normal way and publicized in the Official Gazette. The public would have 28 days to object to it.

Digicel told us last week, when we first sought comment for this story: “The structure you refer to is no longer erected nor operational. Unfortunately, since this matter is currently with the Minister responsible for Planning it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this juncture.”

We went back to Digicel with the information we subsequently garnered from the Planning Department but the firm declined to comment further.