People power halts 60ft mast

People power has halted plans for a 60-foot high phone mast in Snettisham after landowners pulled out of the deal because of residents' uproar. But mobile phone company Hutchinson 3G UK, which trades as 3, has warned villagers to get used to the idea as a mast WILL be built somewhere in the village as network coverage must be provided.

Residents were outraged when the company lodged an appeal against West Norfolk Council's refusal of its plan to built a telecommunications tower on land east of the auction centre off the A149.

But when angry villagers made their feelings known to owners of the site, Cruso and Wilkin, the chartered surveyors pulled out because of the uproar.

A spokesman for the company told the Lynn News the tower could no longer be built on their land if planning permission was eventually gained, because villagers were against it.

However, a spokesman for 3 said a phone mast will be built somewhere. It could be built on the side of a road – because the company would not have to pay rent in that case – AND may be even higher than 20 metres if it has to be built on low ground.

"It's a case of where we go, not if we are going to go there," said Verity Stanford, regional corporate affairs manager for 3. "People are using our phones in the area, and we need masts. We have an obligation to bring coverage to the area.

"The original site was really good because it was away from residential property, and had the screening of the trees.

"On-street works would be far worse than what we were originally proposing. It's not an option we tend to take up because of the proximity that it often has to housing."

The mast needs to be as high as possible, so signals can travel over rooftops and treetops, so if the company built it on low ground then it may need to be even higher than 20 metres.

But if it was built on higher ground or on top of an existing building, then it would not need to be as high.

The council's development control board rejected the original plan last November, saying the tower's height and location would make it a prominent, intrusive feature.

Miss Stanford said an appeal against this decision was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate a couple of weeks ago.

But in the last few days, Cruso and Wilkin pulled out, so 3 withdrew the appeal, and is now investigating other potential sites in Snettisham – and Miss Stanford added the phone mast needed to go up as soon as possible.

Mrs Sybil Melton, chairman of Snettisham Parish Council, said: "If the company still want to build the mast in a residential area, they will get the same response.

If it's still somewhere in the middle of the village, I can't see anyone agreeing to it. We have had such a response against it, even from people not in the vicinity of the original site."

17 March 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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