The future of a controversial phone mast in the centre of Burnham-On-Sea may finally be settled on Monday (February 19th) when a government planning inspector visits the town to assess whether O2 should be forced to remove it.

Kevin Carpenter from the government’s Planning Inspectorate will be visiting the Marine Drive mast, pictured, to make a final decision on whether it can permanently stay.

It comes after an Enforcement Order was placed on O2 – the mobile phone company that owns it – by Sedgemoor District Council last year when the company’s six-month ‘temporary’ installation expired.

But O2 submitted a five-page appeal against the Order, and this in turn sparked an enquiry by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Carpenter told he hopes to make a decision on its future shortly after Monday’s visit.

“I can confirm that I will be visiting the site on Monday and then will make a decision within five weeks. I am also visiting another O2 mast at the nearby Isleport Industrial estate to decide its status.”

Dave Cole of Sedgemoor District Council’s enforcement team, added: “If the Planning Inspectorate upholds the enforcement notice, the council would issue a summons to O2 requesting that it removes the mast within a certain period of time.”

The Marine Drive phone mastThe latest development comes after a long-running saga at the site.

In May 2006, reported how district planners had rejected a request by O2 to move the mast onto the seafront.

And, separately, town planners voted against an application by Orange for a second mobile phone mast to be installed along Marine Drive.

Local residents say the huge mast – which towers over Burnham’s Catholic Church and nearby homes – should be removed. O2 wants the mast sited in the centre of town to boost its previously weak phone reception coverage.

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