AN ARMY veteran returned from holiday to find the view from his house included a 23ft mast peeking above his garden hedge.

Former Signals officer Don Holmes, who was deployed to Bosnia and Sierra Leone, said he and his neighbours were not made aware of the height of the mast, designed to carry electric cables and put up as part of the railway electrification works.

The 68-year-old grandfather of four says it will wipe thousands of pounds off the value of his home.

Don, who spent 37 years in the Army before retiring almost a decade ago, said: “Network Rail sent a letter out to say they were going to do some essential piling work.

“They didn’t say they were going to erect great big masts in the middle of my property.”

He said he returned from a week’s holiday in Wales with his wife to find the mast standing about 12 feet above the couple’s 25ft high hedgerow.

The pair, who are retired, live off Shrivenham Road, Swindon.

Their property backs on to the railway line as it passes the Isis Trading Estate.

Don said: “When the sun’s shining it reflects back to the property. You can see it from the kitchen window and from the bedroom window.”

He has suggested that the works could have a devastating impact on the price of his property.

“The value of my property has gone down I should think by £30,000,” he said.

“It’s so frustrating. I don’t think Network Rail realise the effect they have had.”

Don wants to know whether the company, which is leading the work to improve the London to Bristol railway line, would consider buying his property if the resale value plunged, or if they would camouflage the electricity masts.

“It’s going to have implications not only on myself, but also on the person next door to me.” said Don, who claims that he’s no longer affected by the noise of the trains.

“It’s going to reduce the value of the properties.

“When we first came here 20 odd years ago there was a line of trees all the way along and you couldn’t see the railway line.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said that they would not purchase homes for the visual impact provided by masts. The current finish on the mast minimises ongoing maintenance and will dull with age, he added.

He said: “We appreciate that electrification is a significant visual change to the railway and that of the surrounding area.

“However, it forms a vital part of our Railway Upgrade Plan that will provide more seats, quicker journey times and greener trains.

“It is also worth noting that once complete, electrification will mean trains are far quieter and cause less noise disruption for lineside neighbours.

“Those living near to the railway were sent a letter informing them that piling work would be taking place with a link to our website and our helpline should they wish to find out more about electrification.”

In August, residents on one Royal Wootton Bassett road said that piling works connected to the electrification project had left their houses vibrating.

Lawyer Heather Wannell said: “I had a friend staying over and he thought the house was being broken into.”

For details about the electrification work, visit: