Peterlee fibre broadband halted as wooden poles annoy residents

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image copyrightDavid Brewster
image captionThe broadband company said overhead cables are the "only current option"

People in a town designed to be free of overhead wires are furious wooden poles have been erected outside their homes to carry fibre broadband cable.

Peterlee was one of the post-war New Towns built with "modern" urban planning and underground wires.

Resident David Brewster said the poles were an "eyesore" and other areas had their cables routed below ground.

Netomnia, which is installing the broadband, said it could not bury the cables but was halting the work.

"[We] understand that residents of County Durham are passionate about the aesthetics of their community," a spokesperson said.

"This feedback has lead us to the decision to postpone our current rollout in areas where the use of overhead technology is our only current option."

image copyrightDavid Brewster
image captionThe poles have provoked a strong reaction among people in Peterlee

Mr Brewster said Peterlee was "proud" to have been a wire-free zone for the past 75 years.

There had been no consultation or communication and the arrival of the poles was "quite a surprise", he said.

"The communities didn't know, the local councillors didn't know, they didn't even put any letters through the doors," he said.

In a letter to government, the town's MP Grahame Morris said "infrastructure that was considered outdated in 1946 is now being introduced".

He added: "While we all welcome faster broadband, these services should be delivered in a manner that is acceptable to the community."

image copyrightDavid Brewster
image captionNetomnia said Peterlee's "direct buried" infrastructure meant it could not lay it cable alongside

The poles do not require planning consent but must not obstruct footpaths, streetlights or access to properties and cannot obscure visibility at junctions.

Netomnia said "direct buried" infrastructure in Peterlee meant it could not run fibre-optic cables alongside the existing underground network.

"In these circumstances, the only way that we are able to deliver full-fibre is by using proven overhead technology, in the form of telephone poles," a spokesperson said.

The company said it was assessing which poles needed to be removed and would review matters when it was "viable to do so".

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