Schools backed in mast opposition

Published on 17/03/2006

By SOPHIE DOUGHTY

PLANS to install a mobile phone mast near four schools in Prudhoe have been rejected by Tynedale councillors.

But communications company 3G is still determined to site a mast somewhere in the town.

Tynedale Council’s development control committee agreed to follow officers’ recommendations and refused to grant planning permission for the 3.7 metre mast on top of the Prudhoe Working Men’s Club, on South Road.

The site is less than a mile away from four local schools.

But members were unable to oppose the plans on health grounds.

Government guidelines dictate that their decision must be based on regular planning policies not health risks.

However, the majority of members agreed with planners that the excessive height of the transmitter would have a dominant and detrimental effect on the street.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, agent Paul Butler argued that the Government required 3G to provide adequate coverage to mobile phone users and that the site at South Road was the ideal location for a mast.

“We have been looking for a site in Prudhoe for three years,” he said. “We take steps to roll out the service in the most environmentally sensitive way possible.”

However, councillors argued that the company should keep looking for an alternative site, and consider sharing one of the masts that are already in Prudhoe.

“I don’t like radiation close to people and an alternative solution would suit me better,” said Coun Mitch Mitchell.

And Coun David Watson questioned whether there were any other options.

“Are there any alternative sites that could be used for mast sharing?” he asked.

The proposed site is less than a mile away from Prudhoe West First School, Highfield Middle School, St. Matthews RC First School and Prudhoe Community High School.

The headteachers at all four schools objected to the application because of the unknown health risks associated with radiation from mobile phone transmitters.

After the meeting 3G’s corporate director Mike Alexander told the Courant that the company is considering appealing against the committee’s decision.

And 3G is still determined to install a mast in Prudhoe.

“We will seek out any possible alternative and examine the possibility of appealing against the decision,” he said. “We are committed to providing coverage to our customers in Prudhoe.”

//www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/viewarticle.aspx?id=343329

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