THE surprise appearance of a mobile phone mast in the Bettws area of Newport has baffled local residents, who say they were not consulted on the plans.

The mast was reportedly erected in Lambourne Way overnight between Monday and Tuesday this week.

And now Newport City Council has apologised to residents for the "internal errors" which meant the application for the mast "was not processed in the usual way".

An email seen by the Argus reveals the application to build the mast was "valid" but was "held in error" and not passed on to the planning department.

Applications for telecommunications schemes have a fixed 56-day period in which councils can confirm whether prior approval is needed, the Argus understands. If the council does not respond in that time, the project is deemed to have been given consent.

In this case, the email suggests that by the time the planners were made aware of the Bettws mast application, the 56-day window in which a consultation could legally be launched had already passed, meaning the council was unable to reject the plans and the residents not given a say.

Resident Tracy Martin told the Argus she was "shocked" to see the new mast, which workers have put up "right in the middle of Bettws", near a nursing home and a basketball court where children play.

A meeting has been convened for February 12 and residents have been invited to attend and share their "concerns and worries" about the new "5G mast tower in Bettws".

South Wales Argus: Signs like this have been placed around Bettws.Signs like this have been placed around Bettws.

While some people are reportedly happy with the new mast, Bettws ward councillor Kevin Whitehead told the Argus "a group of residents have approached [him] with their concerns around the placing of this mast".

"As their community representative, I have highlighted this on social media in order that those with concerns could meet and raise them... for me to present them to [the council] for consideration," he said.

"Unfortunately, with it now being erected I doubt very much whether a removal of the mast will happen."

Signs have been put up around Bettws notifying people of the upcoming meeting, which will take place at midday on Saturday, February 12, at Bettws Social Club.

Ms Martin said: "We feel we've been bamboozled. I want us to try and do something about it.

"It was put up without our knowledge or approval – it's outrageous."

Newport City Council's apology in full

"Newport City Council would like to sincerely apologise that relevant parties were not consulted in the usual way over an application for a telecommunications mast in Bettws.

"It can confirm an application was submitted for prior approval but some internal errors meant it was not processed in the usual way.

"These are exceptional circumstances and steps have been taken to ensure it does not happen again.

"However, the mast now has deemed consent as the application was not processed within the required 56 days.

"Local members were informed about what happened in September.

"The council regrets that consultations were not carried out in respect of this application to give residents and local members an opportunity to comment."