TOWN councillors backed plans for 5G mobile kit on New Milton’s landmark water tower – as long as the latest brood of peregrine falcon chicks have flown the nest before work begins.
For the past four years, the protected birds have been nesting at the tower annually, and the current clutch of four is expected to remain there until about August.
MBNL – a collaboration between mobile provider EE and telecoms firm Hutchinson 3G UK – wants to upgrade equipment on the Bournemouth Water-owned Grade II-listed structure in Osborne Road.
During a meeting of the town’s planning committee, held via the Zoom video service, a member of the public questioned the timing of the work regarding the peregrines.
Planning chairman Cllr Steve Clarke told the A&T afterwards: “We wouldn’t want any work to start there until the chicks have been fully fledged and the nest is empty until the next season.
“I think they keep using the nest, certainly through July and into August.”
Cllr Clarke added: “They’re a protected species that are now showing quite a strong comeback. It’s good that we’ve got a breeding pair in the town.”
The same female has nested there since 2016 and this year found a new mate after its previous one disappeared last year. The nesting season at the tower usually starts around late February or early March.
The committee recommended MBNL’s application be approved subject to the nesting peregrines. New Forest District Council is due to make a decision by 21st May.