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Residents object as Marshall erects 38m radar tower

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

Residents near Cambridge Airport are campaigning for the relocation of a “large and overwhelming” new radar tower.

The 12-storey structure – 38m – is located near Marshall’s maintenance hangers and is 40 metres from the nearest resident.

Matt Howard, Green candidate councillor for Abbey, is helping residents build a case, saying that “it is unacceptable that residents should be subjected to such an imposing installation”.

Mr Howard said: “On November 4, lead residents attended a meeting with a team from Marshall’s, including the managing director Richard Howe, as well as current councillors to work together for a better solution for all. It transpired that there were several locations for the radar which Marshall’s privately considered during 2019, in combination with planning applications for their proposed tall development, north of Cherry Hinton. That development was approved to progress by Cambridge Fringes Joint Development Control Committee in May. The radar is a hugely overbearing structure which feels very much on top of surrounding houses.”

With the radar visible from several streets, local residents have raised concerns, including in a formal complaint.

“I sincerely hope we are able to come to an amicable solution which improves the situation for all,” said Mr Howard. “Sadly, it’s a poor start as the radar has already started revolving with a noticeable low level hum.”

The emotive topic for local residents, with several streets are now overshadowed by the structure, and lockdown meaning more are confined to their homes.

Matt Howard, Green Party candidate for Abbey ward
Matt Howard, Green Party candidate for Abbey ward

One resident said: “To sit in the garden now, and see the radar, and to go out the front door, and still see the radar.. [the] letter was so misleading, saying it ‘might be seen’… It makes me very upset that you’re making me feel very uncomfortable in my own home.

“It makes me very angry - and that is affecting my mental health - I have a young son which is why we have the garden, and I feel like that’s been taken away from me.”

Another resident who lives on The Westering stated the communications received were written “to lead us to believe that this was really an innocuous structure that would be smaller than the existing chimney. There was no suggestion of the scale of this, or any indication of the actual impact it would have on our street”.

A Marshall spokesperson said: “Marshall of Cambridge has recently completed the installation of a new radar system for Cambridge Airport. The new state-of-the-art radar, which will replace the previous radar, is situated on the high ground within the airfield boundary, near to the company’s maintenance hangars, in order to give the radar the best coverage of the whole airfield and the surrounding airspace. Radar is an essential part of ensuring the safe operation of the airport and the surrounding airspace. The new radar has been erected, and will be commissioned over the next few months, in full accordance with the regulations and planning processes which apply to regulated airports, including engagement with the relevant local planning officials and letters to local residents.

“Marshall is aware of the concerns of some residents in the neighbouring area relating to new radar. At a meeting with concerned residents and ward councillors last week, the company committed to review the work undertaken to position the radar at the new location, to verify that this is the optimum site.”

Mr Hoard concluded: “I think we’ve got a serious problem on our hands.”

A follow-up meeting is due on November 18.

The top of the Marshall radar tower. Picture: Keith Heppell
The top of the Marshall radar tower. Picture: Keith Heppell

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