DISMAYED village residents have accused BT of “decimating” a previously unspoilt National Park landscape by erecting more than a dozen poles along a picturesque route.

Residents of Over and Nether Silton angrily confronted BT workers this week over the installation of 15, nine-metre long poles to connect the rural communities to superfast broadband.

The area lies within the North York Moors National Park and residents say that the poles will dramatically alter the protected landscape.

BT could install the cables underground - and the National Park Authority offered funding of about £15,000 to aid this, but BT workers told residents this week that the overall cost of underground cabling would run to £52,000 compared to the £3,000 spent on the poles.

Resident Vicky Lane argued that residents would prefer to live without superfast broadband if it meant the historic unspoilt landscape was preserved.

Ms Lane is particularly upset that the poles will blight the view from the village’s 12th Century St Mary’s Church and potentially hamper its fundraising efforts. She said: “It is just going to completely ruin this area and decimate the landscape.

“There is talk about cost, but what cost is losing that view?”

Fellow resident Terry Hayward said that it was a case of big business “bulldozing through” their operation irrespective of community concerns.

Resident Pam Dunn also questioned the safety and sensibility of placing the poles along a single track road frequented by tractors.

Work on erecting the poles started last week.

Chris France, from the North York National Park Authority, said there were “frustrations” with the way BT was operating. He said: “We feel [the

poles] are going to cause landscape harm, particularly for the church."

Mr France stressed that the authority was “absolutely in support” of rolling out superfast broadband to rural communities but it had to be

done sensitively.

The engineering work is being done by Openreach, part of BT Group, on behalf of the Superfast North Yorkshire programme - a partnership led by North Yorkshire County Council and BT.

A joint statement from the three groups said they understood residents’ concerns.

It added: “Wherever a new network is built, planners and engineers look at all the options - considering the costs, timescales, and impact on local

communities very carefully.

"In this case options were severely limited, but we’re reviewing the situation to see if any changes can be made in the future to address these concerns.”