A NEW 22.5-metre high 4G mast has been proposed in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Grayswood – with the aim of ensuring rail commuters can enjoy an uninterrupted internet connection and paving the way for the “introduction of 5G technology within the area”.

Plans for a new ‘lattice’ tower – equivalent in height to more than five double-decker buses stacked on top of each other – in a field next to the railway line at Deer Park Cottage in Grayswood Lane have been submitted to Waverley Borough Council by mobile phone giant EE.

As well as the 22.5-metre tower, EE’s proposed ‘base station’ would be constructed on a concrete foundation and boast two telephone antennas, two microwave dishes and two cabinets – all enclosed by a 1.5-metre timber post fence.

But on top of being located in the Surrey Hills AONB, the site is also in the green belt and designated an Area of Great Landscape Value – and is just 350 metres as the crow flies from All Saints Church.

EE’s application, submitted on its behalf by Devon-based Beacon Comms, states: “Full consideration has been given to alternative sites and other existing masts in the vicinity. However, the proposed location and design are considered to provide the optimum solution in this instance.”

Base stations, such as that proposed next to the railway line in Grayswood, use radio signals to connect mobile devices and phones to the telecommunication network, enabling people to send and receive calls, texts, emails, pictures, web, TV and downloads.

And “without base stations, mobiles devices and phones will not work”, Beacon Comms has claimed in its application to Waverley Borough Council submitted on behalf of EE.

It continued: “It is imperative that support is given to the introduction of 4G technology as this will allow networks to be able to handle more data and connect more devices simultaneously at much faster speeds.”

On the imposing 22.5-metre ‘lattice tower’ at the heart of the planned station, the applicant added the “height of the proposed apparatus is the minimum capable of providing the technological improvements sought”, and claims the tower would be “heavily screened” by existing trees.

However, it admits “the structure may be partly visible from the main road (A286)”.

Beacon Comms said EE’s proposal has been “specifically designed for the site in question” and believes “the overall benefits of the scheme will offset any potential visual impact that may arise”.

In summary, it added: “The proposed monopole would ensure the development of a fast, reliable telecommunications network. This would be particularly beneficial to the rail passengers travelling through the area and local businesses.

“Furthermore, this modern structure would contribute to the introduction of 5G technology within the area. This would support people working from home, especially following ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is anticipated that many formerly office jobs would continue to be conducted from home.

“Therefore, it is essential a fast and reliable network allowing for 5G technology is in place to support the wider rural area.”

EE’s application is accompanied by an ecology report and tree survey, and can be viewed in full online at www.waverley.gov.uk/planning under reference WA/2021/0544.

To date, borough councillors for Elstead & Thursley ward, Jenny and David Else, as well as Witley parish clerk Sarah Nash, and neighbouring Oakland Farm, have been consulted on the plans.

But public views are now sought too by Waverley, via the above web address, before the deadline of April 20.