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Cambridge MP backs relocation as Marshall radar row escalates




Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner is “increasingly worried” about the new permitted development rights introduced into UK law in the summer, as the row over the siting of the radar at Cambridge Airport escalated – with two inquiries set to take place.

The Marshall radar tower at the end of Sunnyside. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Marshall radar tower at the end of Sunnyside. Picture: Keith Heppell

The 12-storey, 38-metre tall radar is located near the Barnwell Road end of the airport on Marshall land, after being installed earlier this month. Residents in The Homing, The Westering, Sunnyside, Mansfield Way and Peverel Road say that the radar mast is imposing and creates noise and light disturbance.

“I was disappointed that proper consultation is only now taking place after the tall radar tower is in place,” said Mr Zeichner. “I’m increasingly worried by changes that take place under the guise of ‘permitted development’ which means local councillors and residents can’t scrutinise plans.

“This has got much worse because of changes made by the Conservative government. I back the local councillors and residents calling for it to be relocated to another part of the airport site away from homes.”

The intervention comes as Marshall announced an independent inquiry which local residents say is “not a satisfactory outcome” – and, acting with the Green Party, residents have announced their own inquiry which they are now seeking to finance via a crowdfunded appeal.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence (MADG)met with residents’ representatives for a second time last Wednesday to listen to their views and outline the broad scope of the planned review.

MADG chief executive Gary Moynehan said: “We fully appreciate the concerns of our neighbours about the new radar and are taking their views very seriously. As a result, we have already committed to complete independent internal and external reviews in relation to the siting of the new radar.

“We do want to ensure that the reviews cover all aspects of the project and as such expect it to be several weeks before we have a definitive outcome, however we hope to be able to share the outputs with local residents as soon as possible.”

The Labour MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner. Picture: Richard Marsham
The Labour MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner. Picture: Richard Marsham

Labour’s three city councillors for Abbey ward have written to the chief executive of MADG, expressing their concerns about the placement of the radar mast at the airport. They have called for it to be relocated away from homes.

Of the three Labour councillors for Abbey ward, Cllr Haf Davies said: “We welcome the news that Marshall are to look again at the radar. It is important the company use this opportunity to properly consider the impact of the mast on local residents. I hope they do the right thing and conclude that it must be relocated to another part of the airport site away from residential homes.”

Cllr Nicky Massey added: “As local councillors we stand with our residents. I am shocked that the radar went up without proper engagement with us and those most likely to be affected. Had there been such a process then we would not be where we are now. Marshall must think again and place the mast elsewhere.”

Matthew Howard, prospective Green Party candidate for the ward, has also suggested that the tower was sited where it is to avoid compromising the view from a planned new housing development on Marshall land further towards Cherry Hinton.

“This is certainly not a satisfactory outcome– we don’t see the review as being independent as it will be coordinated by an employee of Marshall,” said Mr Howard. “Furthermore, their rhetoric already indicates they simply wish to ‘confirm it’s the safest location’, when it’s clear there are multiple alternative locations across their large site, further ignoring the health and well-being of existing residents.

“More significantly, Marshall continue to play down the significance of the other housing developments around the site, which are about as far away from the chosen location as possible. Councillors claim no fault on their part, despite the fact that colleague were told that the radar site would be moved to avoid prejudicing the new developments in 2019, without investigating where and in what form this move would take.

“Alongside residents and Green Party colleagues, we will now be looking to construct an investigation of our own and have started crowdfunding to that effect.”

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Radar tower emits hum and is an eyesore for locals. Picture: Keith Heppell
Radar tower emits hum and is an eyesore for locals. Picture: Keith Heppell


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