RESIDENTS are battling to stop “an eyesore”, four times the height of a double decker bus, from being erected at the heart of a historic fishing and smuggling haven.

Arqiva, which has been appointed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop smart meter infrastructure in the north of England, has applied to the North York Moors National Park Authority for consent to site the 18m-high communications apparatus in Robin Hood’s Bay, five miles south of Whitby.

The firm, which saw revenues of £990m last year, said the mast was needed for the Government’s project to develop a nationwide smart metering network for homes and small businesses, which is among the most visited places by tourists in the national park.

Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters that wirelessly communicate with energy suppliers. 

The meters will offer a range of intelligent functions and provide consumers with more accurate information, bringing to an end estimated billing. Consumers will have near-real time information on their energy consumption to help them control and manage their energy use, save money and reduce emissions.

A key feature of smart meters is that they are continuously connected to data centres to provide and manage the constant flow of data, so must be linked to an electronic communications network.

The smart meter initiative is part of the government’s programme to cut greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of green jobs and technologies.

Most of the sites that form the smart meter network have been planned around sharing existing communication sites and structures.

In documents submitted to the authority’s planners, the operator said the smart meter mast needed to be sited somewhere with good fibre connectivity, with an existing power supply and somewhere than would not cause “undue environmental disturbance”.

It said there were better than the village’s BT exchange, off Thorpe Lane, and that “all reasonable steps have been taken to minimise any perceived visual and environmental impact”. The documents state: “There is no unacceptable adverse visual impact upon the character of the locality and the wider landscape. The siting of the installation makes use of the least environmentally intrusive option available.”

Villagers said while they accepted the need for mast in the area, it would harm the character of Robin Hood’s Bay, contrasting with the predominantly 18th century buildings. Fylingdales Parish Council chairperson Councillor Jane Mortimer said the firm’s original plan to erect a smaller mast on high ground to the north of the village would have been much better than siting it next to the village hall.

She said: “It will be an eyesore. It is far too large and will be seen from anywhere. I know they have to find somewhere for it, but this is far too close to local residents.”