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Mast Sanity
c/o Highfields
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CO11 1SD

Railtrack Actions

Railtrack Actions

Network Rail plan to erect over 2,000 microwave radio masts, one every four or five miles along every railway line in the UK.

Each of these masts will be at least 33 metres tall - as high as a 12-storey block of flats.

Because of a legal loophole, they don't need planning permission, even in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas.

Network Rail say the masts are needed for safety reasons. To support this claim, they cite the Cullen Report on the Ladbroke Grove crash and the Joint Uff/Cullen Report on Automatic Train Protection (ATP). But both Reports contain compelling evidence against the masts.

The Cullen Report warned that fitting ATP on top of TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System, which is already installed throughout the UK) would bring negligible safety benefits at enormous cost.

Yet Network Rail now propose to install ERTMS, a form of ATP that requires microwave masts, at a budgeted cost of £4,280 million. A report published by the Health and Safety Executive estimates that ERTMS will prevent no more than 16 fatalities in 40 years, at a cost of £267.5 million each. According to the Cullen Report, the same money spent on road improvements could prevent 42,800 fatalities, at a cost of just £100,000 each.

And Network Rail has chosen an unproven, non-standard version of ERTMS, flouting the Joint Uff/Cullen Report, which recommended a standardised version (Level 1) that does not require masts.

In pioneering this grandiose scheme, Network Rail are betting huge amounts of public money on unproven technology, in return for virtually no safety benefit and minimal, and entirely speculative, performance gains (Railway Safety's best guess is a 10% capacity increase, but a report published by the Health and Safety Executive has cast doubt on this estimate, pointing out that TPWS has reduced capacity.

Network Rail also say that the masts are necessary because of an EU Directive on interoperability, which is intended to allow trains to travel freely from one country to another.

The original Directive has been extended to require all railways in the EU to implement a computer-based control system called the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). ERTMS will allow trains to be controlled from regional computer centres, with no need for signallers or drivers for normal operations. Network Rail say that the new masts, which use a technology called GSM-R (Global System for Mobile communications - Railway), will provide the radio communications required by ERTMS; they will also replace the existing driver-to-signaller radio systems.

No other EU country has implemented ERTMS Level 2. Italy plans to use it on new High Speed Lines only, and neither France nor Germany have firm dates for implementing it at all.

The only UK line that will be exempt from ERTMS and GSM-R is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which has to be compatible with the Channel Tunnel itself, which uses non-GSM-R technology.

So the only section of rail for which the UK has sought exemption from the EU interoperability Directive is the only section of UK rail that interoperates with European railways.

If the Government can't or won't divert Network Rail from this folly, they should at least prevent them from defacing the countryside with these enormous masts. Much smaller ones are available, down to 5 metres. More of them would be required, thus increasing the cost, but the additional expenditure would be trivial in relation to the cost of the whole project - 'only' £171 million (less than 5% of the total budget) will be spent on the GSM-R network (including masts). And there are already proven alternatives that require no masts at all.

Explanatory note: the train that went through red signals and caused the crash at Ladbroke Grove was a Thames Trains service bound for Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire. The train was a 3-car turbo class 165 diesel unit, which Lord Cullen refers to as "the Turbo". The other train involved in the head-on collision was a First Great Western train from Cheltenham to Paddington. This was a high speed train, comprising eight coaches with a diesel power car at each end, which Lord Cullen refers to as "the HST". The emphases in the text below are ours.

The actions of the signallers

6.8 One or other of two types of radio system was fitted to passenger trains operating over the layout which was controlled by the Slough IECC [Integrated Electronic Control Centre]. In the case of First Great Western and Virgin trains, it was possible to use the National Radio Network (NRN), assuming that the driver was tuned to the appropriate area code which was shown on a board at the trackside. However, this system did not provide a direct means of communication between the IECC and the driver: messages required to be passed to, and relayed by, Swindon control. The trains operated by Heathrow Express and Thames Trains carried Cab Secure Radio (CSR), otherwise known as the Driver-Only Operation (DOO) radio. This enabled direct communication between the IECC and the driver. Thus the signaller could make a telephone call to the driver, waiting for him to respond by picking up the telephone to the cab. He could put out a general call by voice contact to the cabs of all trains which were fitted with the CSR. This would be heard immediately. He could also send an emergency text message to a particular train. This would sound an alarm in the cab, and cause the message to flash up on a screen on the driver's dashboard. The signalman could send such a message by making four strokes on his keyboard for the headcode of the train, followed by pressing a "stop" button.

6.40 It was also notable that no signaller had received any training in the use of the CSR in the event of an emergency. None of the signallers had used it in connection with any previous SPAD.

6.45 ... If a SPADing train is fitted with CSR, the most obvious and effective means of seeking to stop it in accordance with SGI 47 is to send an emergency message by radio.

6.54 In the result between 9.25 and 7.35 seconds elapsed between the sounding of the alarm and the time when it ceased to be possible for a signaller to begin sending an emergency stop message in time to enable the Turbo to be brought to a halt. I do not suggest that signaller Allen was at fault in not seeing that the message was sent within that period of time. However, if management had applied the lessons of past SPADs and if he had been adequately instructed and trained in how to react to a SPAD, and in particular that he should act immediately and should be alert to the use of the CSR where that was available, it may well be the case that he would have been able to send the emergency message in time, and would have done so. To that extent I am disposed to agree with the submission by Counsel to the Inquiry that there seems to be no good reason why the message could not have been sent out earlier than it was, and in time to enable driver Hodder to pull up before the fouling point, or at any rate to reduce his speed to such an extent that the force of the crash was substantially lessened.

The work of signallers

12.29 Counsel for First Great Western rightly submitted that it was most unfortunate that there was still no national system of radio communication between trains and signallers. Counsel pointed out that First Great Western had pressed for a modern radio system. In April 1999 Railtrack had cancelled the DART project (to introduce such a system nationwide) without explanation. It was common ground that such a system is desirable and, in the light of the evidence given by Mr Leah [Railtrack's Board Director for Safety and Environment], there appeared to be no insurmountable technical difficulty. Mr Leah said in evidence that Railtrack was developing a national radio project in a form of CSR which was European compatible. This was for all passenger lines and it was being looked at as a matter of urgency. The proposal had been put to the Investment Committee of Railtrack for their approval. In my view, there should be a national system of direct radio communication between trains and signallers.

Passenger protection, evacuation and escape: Communications

14.63 So far as external communications are concerned, I have already referred to the limited usefulness of the NRN radio system, and to the restricted scope of the CSR [according to the Glossary, page 264, the 'restriction' was that it was "mainly confined to the south-east of England"]. There is plainly a need for the development of a nation-wide radio system which will enable there to be direct communication between train drivers and signallers.

14.64 Miss Forster informed the Inquiry that First Great Western had issued mobile telephones to their senior conductors, and since February 2000 had been conducting trials to see whether it was beneficial for their drivers to have them also. In order to avoid the danger of drivers being distracted they had been issued with a protocol as to their use. The provisional view was that issuing them to drivers was a success, but it would be risk-assessed before it was made a permanent arrangement. There would still be a need for drivers to use signal post telephones because the signaller needed to know exactly where the driver was and to be sure that he was speaking to the right person. Mr Paton, the senior conductor on the HST, said that it would be useful for guards to be issued with a small pocket-size card showing all relevant telephone numbers. He said that he had been unable to recall the telephone number of the IECC and instead used the trackside telephone. I agree that his suggestion has merit.

Summary of recommendations: Radio communications

51. There should be a national system of direct radio communication between trains and signallers (para 12.29).

The following description of ERTMS is taken from the report ERTMS: Towards a Better, Safer Rail System, published by Railway Safety and the Strategic Rail Authority, which can be downloaded from the Strategic Rail Authority's site as an 808-kilobyte PDF file.

ERTMS is an advanced train control system which also provides Automatic Train Protection (ATP). It will eliminate most Signals Passed at Danger (SPADs). In terms of scale, the national deployment of ERTMS probably represents the largest safety critical control system project ever undertaken in the UK.

The ERTMS system can be implemented at three main levels as defined by the EU:

Level 1:

The simplest form, consisting of trackside equipment which 'reads' the signals and passes this information to the train via track-mounted transponders. This enables an on-board computer to determine the train's limit of movement authority and supervise the speed. As a 'fixed block' system, each train runs within its own exclusive section of track, demarcated by lineside signals.

Level 2:

Also a fixed block system and as with Level 1, provides full Automatic Train Protection. The difference is the use of radio to connect the on-train computer with signalling centres [our emphasis]. The continuous stream of data informs the driver of traffic and signals status on the route ahead, allowing the train to reach its maximum speed within its block while maintaining safe braking distance. Track based detection systems are maintained but lineside signals are optional, though may be retained for 'fallback operation'.

Level 3:

Accurate and continuous position data is supplied to the control centre directly by the train, rather than by track based detection equipment. At this level there are no trackside signals, and the train driver views all speed and signalling information on in-cab monitors only. Level 3 systems need not involve fixed blocks, but could instead operate on a 'moving block' principle.

Please don't copy out the letter below verbatim. People in authority or positions of influence discount form letters almost entirely. Instead, please just use this letter as a source of ideas, and write your own letter without sight of it.

Dear ______

I am writing in connection with Network Rail's proposed UK-wide communications network, which consists of 2,022 33-metre masts (more than twice the height of a normal cellular mast), one every 7-8 kilometres of track. An unknown number of them are planned for our constituency, but Network Rail won't reveal the locations (they don't need planning permission, it seems).

Network Rail claim that they are obliged to introduce this network by a European Union law on interoperability (Directive 96/48).

Knowing how prone UK organizations are to blame unpopular developments on the EU, we suspect that Network Rail may be bending the truth to suit their own purposes. If so, the European Union should take steps to publicly dissociate itself from the masts, otherwise it will incur a great deal of unwarranted odium in the coming years.

Apparently, the UK will be the first country to implement Level 2 ERTMS throughout their rail network. Italy plans to use Level 2 ERTMS on new High Speed Lines only, and neither France nor Germany have firm dates for implementing it at all. Only Austria and Bulgaria are said to have implemented Level 1 ERTMS, a simpler version that does not require masts.

Directive 96/48 also permits countries to apply for exemption (or "derogation") on various grounds, including cost (ERTMS is budgeted to cost £3.6 to £6 billion). However, the only section of rail for which the UK has sought derogation is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link - the only section of the UK rail network that interoperates with European railways.

Please can you ask the EU to confirm that the UK is not obliged to implement Level 2 ERTMS immediately, and could apply for indefinite derogation?

Can you also please ask Network Rail to provide you (and us too, if possible) with a complete list of projected GSM-R mast locations within your constituency? Mr John Armitt, Chief Executive of Network Rail, supplied such a list to Dr Caroline Jackson, MEP for the south-west.

Yours etc


Your name

Your address (within the constituency)

Please don't copy out the letter below verbatim. People in authority or positions of influence discount form letters almost entirely. Instead, please just use this letter as a source of ideas, and write your own letter without sight of it.

Dear ______

I am writing in connection with Network Rail's proposed network of 2,022 33-metre GSM-R masts [, several of which are planned for our constituency].

There are good reasons why the proposed network of masts should be scrapped in its entirety because:

  1. Network Rail's pretexts for building the GSM-R network are flawed.
  2. There is a far cheaper and less environmentally destructive alternative.
  3. There is no technical need for the masts to be so tall and so close together.

My reasons for taking this view are set out below.

We hope that you can find time to take these points up with the appropriate people at the highest levels.

Network Rail say they have to put up these masts for safety reasons. They claim that the creation of a new radio network was a "key recommendation" of the Cullen Report into the Ladbroke Grove crash.

In fact, it was number 51 out of 89 recommendations. All the trains involved in the Ladbroke Grove crash already had an in-cab radio system. The train that caused the crash was equipped with CSR (Cab Secure Radio), and Lord Cullen concluded that, if it had been used effectively, it would have prevented the accident.

From a safety point of view, the £190 million Network Rail plan to spend on the masts would be much better spent on track maintenance and staff training: of the three recent major crashes, two (Potter's Bar and Hatfield) were caused by poor track maintenance and the other (Ladbroke Group) was primarily caused by "significant shortcomings in [the] training" of the driver of one of the trains and could have been averted if Railtrack had trained its signalmen to use the communications technology it already had.

Network Rail also claim that they are obliged to introduce this network by a European Union law (Directive 96/48).

This Directive is clearly intended for main trans-European lines only, where trains may cross national borders. Curiously, the one line that is definitely excluded from Network Rail's GSM-R plans is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, because it has to be compatible with the Channel Tunnel, which itself uses a non-GSM-R signalling system. So other trains couldn't get safely from one side of the Channel to the other by rail, since their new technology wouldn't work on the Rail Link or in the Channel Tunnel itself.

A much better, and cheaper, solution would be for Network Rail to make use of the existing mobile phone network, with a much smaller number of additional masts to fill in gaps in the existing coverage. The Cullen Report was quite favourable towards the use of standard mobile phones by drivers and conductors. We have been told, by a very senior technical manager at one of the mobile phone companies, that this is technically quite feasible. If necessary, GSM-R antennae could co-exist with GSM antennae on the same masts, as long as there is a vertical gap of 1.5 metres between them.

The most compelling reasons Network Rail's Head of Communications, GSM-R Project, could adduce for not using third-party masts are that "the GSM-R network will be a key element of our operational safety apparatus and as such, the masts will be dedicated to this use to minimise any operational risk. Particularly in sparsely populated areas mobile coverage is poor and masts tend not be in the right places for our intended purpose." We imagine that most people would trust Vodafone or Orange, or almost anyone else, to manage a communications network better than Network Rail. And erecting new masts to fill in the gaps in coverage would be vastly cheaper and less disruptive than building a whole new network, and could be implemented far more quickly.

Another important question is: why must the masts be so numerous and so tall? It seems very unlikely that 33-metre masts every 4 to 6 miles are necessary. GSM masts for mobile-phones are typically less than half that height and have a range of 10km in rural areas, meaning that they can be spaced 20km or 12 miles apart. We can expect trains to use more powerful transmitters and more sensitive receivers than mobile phones, further increasing the range.

I would be very grateful if you would take these matters up with Network Rail and the relevant Government departments.

Please also support Richard Spring's Private Member's Bill, the Town and Country Planning (Telecommunication Masts) Bill 2004, which has its second reading on 21 May 2004. This would (among other things) explicitly exclude communications apparatus from Network Rail's permitted development rights under Part 17 of the GPDO - a loophole Network Rail is using to evade the planning process.

Finally, can you also please ask Network Rail to provide you (and us too, if possible) with a complete list of projected GSM-R mast locations within your constituency?

Yours sincerely


Your name

Your address (within the constituency)

By Nathaniel Lichfield in association with S J Berwin Solicitors for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, September 2003.

Note: the emphases in the excerpts below are ours.

15.8 Network Rail considers Part 11 only applies to itself (for railway works) as the inheritor of the original railway legislation but that it should also apply to railway operating companies. This undertaker currently exercises rights under Part 11 (as well as Part 17) up to one thousand times annually, expects to use them more frequently for major line upgrades and considers them essential. However, other railway related organisations generally considered this section too vague and difficult for local authorities to interpret, considering that improved guidance is needed on it. They indicated cases of resistance by local authorities to accepting that 19th century legislation can enable works and often delaying urgent works by requiring a Lawful Development Certificate to confirm this.

21.16 Railway undertakers typically use permitted development rights for new buildings, building refurbishments, infrastructure changes, installation of equipment and retail facilities within stations. They also make use of Part 11 of the GPDO for works not covered by Part 17. As an example, Network Rail exercises Part 17 and Part 11 rights up to 1,000 times annually.

Operational railway telecommunication masts

Concerns have been raised by some local planning authorities that there is no height limit on the telecommunication masts that can be erected by railway undertakers on operational railway land for operational safety reasons under Part 17 A of the GPDO, without any formal control or prior notification. This is in contrast to masts erected by telecom companies under Part 24 of the GPDO, which are subject to a height restriction of 15m and prior approval on siting and appearance.

Network Rail is currently rolling out a national network of some 2,000 new masts, in order to upgrade the current train communication and safety system, which will soon be obsolete and will not meet railway safety standards. Network Rail benefits from permitted development rights to erect these masts on operational railway land. The height of the new masts will vary from location to location, but will be at least 4-5 Km apart and the majority of new masts are expected to be 30m, some of which could be installed on embankments, further adding to their perceived height [ as is the case with the proposed New Mill mast]. The installation of lower masts would require more mast locations sited closer together and may not always be technically feasible, given local topography and the need for a short maximum distance between masts for trains to pick up signals travelling at high speeds. However, given the extent of the national rail network, it is considered that there is potential for significant visual impact, particularly on sensitive landscape areas such as Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

While this appears to be a very limited problem at present, with only one local authority reporting a problem, it is likely to become more important as Network Rail plans to install 2,000 masts in 2003/2004. The authority reporting an impact, South Shropshire District Council, was concerned about the visual impact, without scope for control, of a proposed 30m high mast close to the historic town centre and Conservation Area of Ludlow. An Article 4 direction was confirmed to remove Part 17 A permitted development rights from the most sensitive parts of operational railway land in the town and Network Rail found an alternative location. Clearly, in this case, the local authority was able to use the current GPDO controls to influence the location of the mast, although the Article 4 direction route was seen as a 'last resort' by the authority and involved significant time and costs. Its use was only possible as the undertaker notified the local authority of the proposal, although it was not required to do so.

An alternative control for local authorities would be to require an Environmental Impact Assessment, which would remove permitted development rights and require the submission of a planning application. This would require no change to the GPDO but the process of assessing whether a single mast has 'significant environmental effects' is open to significant interpretation and this would not give local authorities certainty.


Given the fact that some 2,000 new masts are planned across the UK, some of which will be in sensitive landscape areas and could be 30 metres high with potential for material impacts, the most targeted approach would be, within these sensitive Article 1(5) areas only, to subject the masts to a height restriction of 15m (as applies to masts under Part 24) with a prior approval requirement relating to colour and siting. There is also a case for applying a 15 m height limit outside sensitive areas, for both consistency and impact reasons, but this would need to be balanced against national rail safety objectives, and the delays to this important rail safety aim which could result. The main benefits of this change would be in the improved control over potential high visual impacts in the most sensitive areas. The cost implications would be more planning and prior approval applications over a finite period, but probably not large numbers for any one authority, and this would be offset by less need to utilise time consuming Article 4 Directions. For users and consumers, there may be delays to the rail safety upgrading programme, but the railway undertaker had intended to notify planning authorities on every mast in any event and is also notifying the CAA, partly offsetting the work involved from a prior approval requirement. While there is also a risk that the height limitation could simply result in more but lower masts, the prior approval requirement will provide some control over impacts in more sensitive areas.

Page 21
(REQUESTED 09/08/00)
Information Requested
ORR have requested information on the scope and specification of the new telecom system.
This is to include a description of the functional architecture, estimated costs and
implementation timing. ORR also requires details of the fall-back contingency plans in the event
that the GSM-R systems are not implemented by 2006.
Feasibility studies for the fixed network are continuing. When these are completed specific
definition of the system elements will be made. However the architecture and functional
requirements are understood and are discussed below.
The GSM-R solution is now in Design Development phase. This must be completed before total
system size and migration strategy is understood.
This paper describes the system at high level, and will be subject to enhancement as the detail
of system elements and quantities are defined.
Fixed Network
Railtrack's Fixed Telecom network was installed piecemeal as part of BR's electrification
and signalling projects between 1960 and 1993. Because the requirements were based
around individual project needs, technology types vary across and within zones. Fault
reporting is localised and system failure is generally uncovered only as a consequence of a
customer complaint.
Railtrack will replace this ageing network in modern form to provide a single fault tolerant
network with centralised performance and maintenance management.
The network will be required to provide essential circuits for signalling, electrification, radio
and customer information systems, as well as for more general business needs.
Functional Architecture
The network functional architecture will comprise of a high level backbone based upon
optical fibre transmission, underlaid by a mix of technology solutions related to the
bandwidth requirements (and topology) of different grades of railway lines.
The high level design proposes a number of high availability links meshed to form 9 core
rings. These are designed to provide a high degree of reliability to the order of 30 minutes
outage per link per 30 years. Further links create 35 further rings which are designed to
provide connectivity to the rest of the railway. Core links will be of the order of 10x STM-4
and the remainder 2x STM-1.
The remaining lines are expected to have relatively low bandwidth requirements, with a
number of possible technology options. These include microwave (between GSM-R radio
towers), and HDSL where continued use of copper cable is deemed feasible.
There will be a local distribution network of trackside fibres and possibly copper cables.
PDH systems will deliver the majority of the trackside transmission providing connectivity to
the lineside assets.
A concept feasibility diagram has been prepared (see over), which identifies the core and

Please don't copy out the letter below verbatim. People in authority or positions of influence discount form letters almost entirely. Instead, please just use this letter as a source of ideas, and write your own letter without sight of it.

Dear ______

I understand that Network Rail is planning to introduce a computerised control system called ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), which they justify on the grounds of increased passenger safety.

According to a report published by Railway Safety and the Strategic Rail Authority, called Towards a Better, Safer Railway System, ERTMS is budgeted to cost between £3.6 and £6 billion, but is predicted to save 83 lives over the next 40 years, at a cost of between £75 million and £45 million each. The report concludes that "the relatively small additional risk reduction achieved by ERTMS (once TPWS is installed) appears not to be justified purely as a safety investment." TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System) now covers virtually all UK track, I believe.

It seems to me that the money would be far better spent on track maintenance and staff training. Of the four recent major crashes, two (Potter's Bar and Hatfield) were caused by poor track maintenance, and the other two (Southall and Ladbroke Grove) were, according to the Uff and Cullen reports, primarily caused by poor training resulting in the failure of staff to make use of the technology already available (Automatic Train Protection and Cab Secure Radio, respectively), which if it had been used would have averted both accidents.

If saving the most lives for the money spent is the objective, it would be even better spent on improving the reliability, punctuality, comfort, and convenience of rail services, and subsidising fares more heavily, in order to attract motorists back to rail transport (rail travel is over 27 times safer than road travel, so using the train would cut their risk of death in transit by more than 95%).

As a regular commuter, I too would appreciate more reliability, punctuality, etc, plus lower fares!

Yours etc


Your name

Your address

Below is a list of 183 locations in Network Rail's south-west region earmarked as sites for GSM-R masts. It clearly isn't a complete list - for example, no locations in West Berkshire are shown - and it's not clear how up-to-date it is.

We are indebted for this list to Dr Caroline Jackson, MEP for the South-West, who obtained it from John Armitt, Network Rail's Chief Executive. As far as we know, it is the only such list to have been published on the Web.

if you are located elsewhere, please contact one of your MEPs to ask them to request a list of proposed mast locations for their constituency. You can find out the names and contact details of all the Members of the European Parliament representing your region from this web page. There's a sample letter here.


When you get the list for your area, please

If you know, or find out, any information that might be useful to our campaign (including relevant websites), please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Site Local Planning Authority Site Local Planning Authority Site Local Planning Authority
Alderton North Wilts Fountain LC Bridgend Plymouth 2 Plymouth
Alford Well Farm South Somerset Freshford Bath and NoE Som Porthminster St Ives Penwith
Ardley Cherwell Garth Station Pyle Stn Bridgend Portsmouth Arms North Devon
Ardley Tunnel E Cherwell Gerston Farm Mid Devon Pyle Stn Bridgend
Ascot under Wynchwood West Oxford Goring South Ox Radley Station Vale of White Horse
Ashely North Wilts Gotham Bristol Rashleigh Barton Mid Devon
Avon Gorge Bristol Hardington Marsh South Somerset Reading Station Reading
Avonmouth Bristol Haw Wood Bristol Redruth Kerrier
Banbury Cherwell Haw Wood South Gloucs Rodbourne Bottom North Wilts
Bath Spa Bath and NoE Som Hayle Stn Penwith Rodford Yate South Gloucs
Battledene Farm Cotswold Heathfield Station Teignbridge Roseworthy Penwith
Baulking Vale of White Horse Heavitree Exeter Rushwick A440 Bridge Worcester
Beam Bridge Taunton Deane Hele East Devon Saltford Bath and NoE Som
Bedwyn Stn Kennet Heyford Station Cherwell Sandplace Station Caradon
Berkely Down Mendip Hicks Gate Bath and NoE Som Scorrier (Redruth) Kerrier
Bicester Town Station Cherwell Highbridge and Burnham Sedgemoor Seawall Pumping Station South Gloucs
Bishop's Tawton North Devon Holts Farm LC Cherwell Shiphay Torbay
Bodmin Caradon Honeybourne Station Wychavon Shiplake South Ox
Bodmin Parkway Caradon Honiton Station East Devon Shirehampton Park Bristol
Bower Ashton Bristol Hyde Farm South Somerset Sodbury Tunnel East South Gloucs
Bradford on Avon West Wilts Iron Acton LC South Gloucs Sodbury Tunnel West South Gloucs
Bratton West Wilts Ivy Bridge South Hams South Moreton South Ox
Bridgend Stn Bridgend Kemble Station Cotswold Southcote Junction Reading
Bridgewater Station Sedgemoor Kldlington Station Cherwell St Annes Park Bristol
Brinkworth North Wilts King Nympton North Devon St Budeaux Rd Stn Plymouth
Bristol Gt Stoke South Gloucs Kingham Station West Oxford St Keyne Stn Caradon
Bristol Temple Meads Bristol Kit Hill South Somerset St Thomas Station Exeter
Bruton Station South Somerset Langstone Rock Teignbridge Stapleton Road Bristol
Bulls Bridge Mendip Liskeard Caradon Stevenson Vale of White Horse
Burbage Wharf Kennet Llangewydd Court Farm Bridgend Stowell Farm Bridge South Somerset
Calstock Caradon Locksbrook Bath and NoE Som Teignmouth Station Teignbridge
Camborne Kerrier Ludgershall Kennet Tengore Farm South Somerset
Cary Bridge South Somerset Lyminster Farm South Somerset Tigley South Hams
Castle Cary Station South Somerset Mansfield Farm East Devon Tllehurst Station Reading
Catridge Farm West Wilts Marston Manor South Somerset Tockenham Wick North Wilts
Charlbury Station West Oxford Menheniot Stn Caradon Topsham Exeter
Chippenham Sta North Wilts Milkhouse Water [New Mill] Kennet Torquay Station Torbay
Chittening Wrath Bristol Mili Farm West Wilts Totnes South Hams
Christian Malford North Wilts Millers Farm Mendip Trefusis Farm Taunton Deane
Cogload Farm Taunton Deane Mitchells Elm Farm Mendip Trowbridge West Wilts
Combe Fishacre Teignbridge Moor Cross South Hams Truelfoot Caradon
Combe Station West Oxford Morchard Road Station Mid Devon Umberleigh Station North Devon
Corsham North Wilts Moreton-in-Marsh Cotswold Upper Minety North Wilts
Cowley Oxford Mount Pleasant Farm Wychavon Wadbrook East Devon
Crewkerne Station South Somerset Newton East Devon Warleigh Bath and NoE Som
Cropredy Cherwell Newton Abbot Station Teignbridge Warminster West Wilts
Crowlas Penwith Newton St Cyres Station Mid Devon Watchfield Vale of White Horse
Denchworth Vale of White Horse Norton LC Wychavon Westleigh Mid Devon
Didcot Station South Ox Nymet Bridge Mid Devon Whatley Quarry Mendip
Droitwich Spa Station Wychavon Oxford North Oxford Whites Sedgemoor
East Plymouth Plymouth Oxford Station Oxford Whitford East Devon
Eckington LC Wychavon Paignton Station Torbay Wick South Somerset
Eggesford Barton Mid Devon Parson Street Bristol Wickham Green Farm Kennet
Elm Gate Caradon Patchway South Gloucs Widham LC North Wilts
Evelench Farm LC Wychavon Patchway Tunnel South Gloucs Woodborough Kennet
Evesham Station Wychavon Penadlake Bodmin North Cornwall Woodrow East Devon
Exminster Teignbridge Pencoed Station Bridgend Wootton Bassett North Wilts
Exmouth Station East Devon Penryn Kerrier Worcester Shrub Hill Worcester
Farleaze Farm North Wilts Penzance Penwith Yeoford Station Mid Devon
Fenny Bridge East Devon Pershore Station Wychavon Yeovil Pen Mill Station South Somerset
Filton Airfleld South Gloucs Pinhoe Station Exeter Zeaston South Hams

Here is a brief history of how we did it:

  1. We started with a public meeting in early May 2003 arranged by the Parish Council. That led to a committee of ten people with the Vice Chair of the Parish as the Chairman. The Parish Council said that it would reimburse appropriate expenses up to a limit. The local MP issued a strong anti-mast press release, before we asked him BBC Radio in Barnstaple were good and did an interview which was repeated all day. The BBC in Plymouth were then helpful with a TV interview + article on the news all day.
  2. We printed a Newsletter in mid-May and hand delivered about 500 of them in the local area. We also cultivated the local press and the North Devon Journal (a weekly newspaper) ran a major article on the Masts every week for 12 weeks. They also had a tear-off box for people to fill in and then send back to the North Devon Journal - instant petition.
  3. A separate protest group had already been established in Mid-Devon and we attended one of their meetings held at Yeoford + spoke and gave the local councillors a hard time. We gradually joined up with them and still have a joint committee with six members. We have assigned jobs - one person is the official spokesperson, so he talks to the press and media. Another member in Mid-Devon is our official contact with Madelene Klaasen-Bos of Network Rail. We have an ex-High Court judge as a member, who does the legal digging, and a well informed scientist who works in the health sector.
  4. We gave a series of public meetings up and down the Taw valley, always via the parish council. The format was a powerpoint presentation with two presenters doing a double act, followed by questions. There was a very good public meeting arranged in Mid-Devon to which Network Rail were invited and spoke - they were decimated - we had people planted in the audience with questions and the North Devon MP gave a powerful speech. We held petition events on local market days, with six petition collectors at each. The most effective opening line to passers by is "Will you please sign our petition?" - it worked every time, as people always ask what the petition is about and then you are in.
  5. Gradually we lost members of the Committee, including the Chair, so we held another local public meeting in July to bring people up to date, but also to get new blood. We then got another (new) six committee members to join the three left from the original ten. One of the new members cultivated the Environment Editor (Charles Clover) of the Daily Telegraph, resulting in the article on Monday 8th September, followed by another article in the Sunday Telegraph. Letters appeared the following Sunday. BBC Countryfile spotted the article in the Daily Telegraph, and came down to Devon for a series of interviews. They also interviewed Iain Croucher, the deputy Chief Executive of Network Rail.
  6. On 23rd July, the North Devon District Council invited Network Rail + ourselves to speak. Again Network Rail were decimated - their presentation was very short and comprised "we are going to build the masts because we need them, we will listen to your objections (because we have to 'consult') and we may move them up to 250 meters if you insist. Any questions?" The North Devon District Council decided to set up a special committee to find an alternative to the Masts and employ an expert to provide impartial advice.
  7. Four weeks ago, Madelene Klaasen-Bos turned up at the first meeting of the special committee and announced her bombshell - a complete change of heart by Network Rail for the Tarka Line, subject to approval by the SRA and the HSE. We await her update later next month.

I think that the key factor was that we had a plan: (a) Inform local people and keep informing them with public meetings and hand-delivered readable, useful, interesting Newsletters. (b) Encourage them to write to local councillors, the MP, Network Rail, SRA etc - and we made it easy for them to do so by putting all the names and address in our Newsletters. (c) Get local press on side and arrange articles and interviews so that they have something to write and pictures of protestors - usually at very short notice. (d) Cultivate national newspaper editors (primarily environment editors). (e) Talk to the local radio and TV and get them to do interviews for broadcast + publicise the public meetings. (f) Hope that the national TV gets interested - which Countryfile did and BINGO - your friendly Network Rail gets invited to 10 Downing Street to be asked what on earth all the fuss is about and pls can they make it go away!

Colin Browne

Tarka Line Action Group