Chris Hunter
18 January 2023
‘Angry residents blocked contractors’ vehicles to stop “unannounced” work to erect an 85ft phone mast.
People living in Bowmans Road and Chastillian Road, Dartford, said they had no idea about plans to install the 5G antennae on neighbouring Bowmans Heath, until equipment arrived at the site on Wednesday last week.
When a lorry and crane turned up to deliver the mast the following day, some residents parked cars to stop a crane getting access to the heath, while others phoned the council to ask for the work to be stopped.
Brian Lydon of Bowmans Road said one contractor had been blunt in explaining what he was there to deliver.
“I went out to find out what’s going on,” said Mr Lydon. “The driver of the lorry said ‘they’re putting up a great big tower, it’s going to be a big ugly thing.’
“He was full of good news. He said ‘you won’t need to go to any suntan shops, you’ll be glowing.’ He was full of it. A couple of people parked tactically to slow them down. One parked in front of the delivery and parked to the rear. They couldn’t get the crane onto the grass.”
“I think councillors turned up and agreed to stop the work until further notice because proper consultation has not been carried out.”
“We’ve been totally kept in the dark about this. They’ve just totally sprung it on us.”
Mr Lydon and others living in the affected streets believe the heath is a completely inappropriate location for the mast – which would be the height of more than five double decker buses and tower over a dozens of nearby properties.
Aside from backing onto homes, there are also safety fears as much of the area is a former landfill site, with large amounts of methane gas under the ground.
Houses in the area have been built on piled foundations, and those living near the heath have said the ground level has shifted over time, with previously flat areas now full of slopes and dips.
While that could spark fears of the mast falling over, the main fear for residents is that it will stay standing up – creating an eyesore in view of many homes.
Mr Lydon added: “Within 4-500 yards of where the mast it, you’ve got other areas that would be more suitable. There are industrial areas where it could go and a waste tip. You could put the mast there and no one’s going to be bothered.
“It would be a complete eyesore. It will be horrible to see, and if there are going to be generators buzzing that will be another thing.”
Another Bowmans Road resident, Brian Crone, was among those who had parked to block the contractors’ access.
“People were quite alarmed,” said Mr Crone. “There were enormous contractors vehicles coming down the street. People were so alarmed we boxed the vehicles in. We just left the cars there and then someone from the council came down and put a stop to the work.”
Mr Crone is also a member of the volunteer group Friends of Dartford Heath, which meets regularly with council representatives – but he said no one had mentioned the mast when they met just days earlier.
“We had a meeting on January 9,” he said. “Local councillors were there and didn’t mention anything at all. It was rather strange.
“There’s been no consultation with residents. It’s almost as if this has been done by stealth.
“The contractors brought the vehicles in when it was dark.”
He said the field was a popular spot for dog walkers and joggers, and was also used as a walking route for children on their way to Wentworth Primary School.
Furthermore he said there concerns over heavy vehicles driven onto the field, considering the presence of flammable methane gas under the ground.
Those living nearby will be hoping the arguments stack up to create a good defence, following successful battles to block similar projects.
Contractors had announced they were due to return to the site today, but residents believe they have been told by council officers they do not yet have permission to proceed.
Dartford Council has been approached for further comment.’