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THE TRANSMISSION GALLERY

Photos by Dan Glover Page last updated: 2017-02-19
Barns Farm Fife
NGR: NT178842 Maps: Google  Bing (Ord Surv) Site Height:       Structure Height:
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Comments: Original MW site for Edinburgh ILR, replaced by Colinswell late 1983

February 2017

Radio Forth went on-air on 22 January 1975 with its MF transmitter at Barns Farm. This is noted in the 1977 IBA Television & Radio handbook as operating at 2 kW with an "MF omnidirectional aerial" - probably a single mast radiator.

By mid-1976 initial discussion had taken place between Shell/Esso and the local authority over proposals to establish an ethylene plant at Mossmoran together with a jetty at Braefoot Bay - around 500 m from the IBA site. The formal plans were submitted in January/Ferbruary 1977. During the subsequent planning enquiry the potential for ignition of flammable vapour due to RF fields ("radio spark ignition") was identified. The Health and Safety Executive produced a report in 1978 relating to the possible hazards at Braefoot Bay and Mossmoran. By this stage approval had been given in principle to the location of the two plants but a planning condition was added:

"Operation of the Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay facilities shall not be commenced until such time as any measures considered necessary by the Secretary of State have been carried out to deal with any possible hazard effects of radio transmissions on the facilities. In particular comprehensive tests to determine electro-magnetic field strengths and levels of power induced in site structures shall be conducted on the proposed plant during its construction, to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State."

The exact detail of subsequent events is unclear however construction of the Mossmoran facility appears to have started by 1981 and independent auditors provided reports to the HSE late in 1983. In April 1984 final approval to commission the sites was given as all planning conditions had been satisfied.

The IBA Annual Report 1983-84 noted: "In Autumn 1983, the m.f. transmitter at Barns Farm in Fife near Edinburgh for Radio Forth was closed down and the service transferred to a new site at Colinswell, a few miles away. This was done in order to reduce the strength of the radio signals at a petrochemical plant adjacent to Barns Farm. The strength of the signals at this plant was considered a safety hazard as any spark might have initiated an explosion." The Colinswell site is around 4.5 km from Braefoot Bay.

Having considered the history we now turn to the geography and what remains of the Barns Farm site.

A 1985 OS plan at 1:2500 scale - although after the Barns Farm site had closed - shows a "mast" adjacent to the Tattie Knoll plantation along Beech Avenue.



From www.old-maps.co.uk. The marker is at NT 178 842.

From Google Earth (believed to be taken in 2006) we can see traces of the site.


The red lines highlight the original boundary - a smaller compound has been created in the south west corner as highlighted in yellow. There are traces of the mast base and three blocks which seem to correspond to where stays (guys) would have been anchored. These artefacts aren't visible from Beech Avenue.

The two buildings are very likely those from 1975, retained for new purposes.


The fenced compound encloses the two buildings and a tower with communications antennas - most likely to support the Braefoot Bay terminal. The "radio spark" hazard is presumably much lower at the frequencies and powers now used.

Colinswell

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