Protesters in Leamington's green belt are celebrating a victory for people power

We helped scupper plans for green-belt phone pole

Mar 22 2006

By Andrew Heath

PROTESTERS who campaigned against plans for a mobile phone mast in Leamington's green belt are celebrating a victory for people power.

Councillors last week turned down the application to erect a 15-metre pole on a grass verge in St Alban's Close, Milverton, submitted by mobile phone giant O2.

Protesters gathered 1,500 signatures, wrote 150 letters and sent numerous e-mails to Warwick District Council's planning committee, complaining about the plans.

Locally, only opposition to Coventry Airport's expansion plans has been bigger.

Campaigners were worried about the proximity of the site to a children's playground, to Trinity and Brookhurst schools, and a popular local footpath.

Mother-of-two Laura Fitzpatrick, of Old Milverton said: "Everyone is very relieved and pleased.

"There was an overwhelming response and although they don't say it was down to public opinion and have to give planning reasons for the refusal, it can't have harmed our cause."

The application was turned down on highways safety grounds and because it was judged to be an inappropriate development harmful to the green belt.

Terry Molloy, of St Alban's Close, who helped run the campaign, has now posted hundreds of leaflets to let neighbours know of the result.

He welcomed the planning veto on the phone mast but said residents would remain vigilant.

He said: "Now, hopefully, O2 will leave us alone.

"There was five years between this and a previous application for a mast here. But it feels like we are a little under siege.

"We need to be vigilant and keep our eyes and ears open to make sure we don't miss any other applications in future."

A spokeswoman for O2 said the company was bitterly disappointed at the decision and would continue to look for another site in the same area.

She added: "We need extra capacity in that area and this type of monopole has to fit in with our existing network, so it can't go anywhere.

"We are in a difficult situation. People want to use their mobile phones but then campaign against us when we try to build new masts."

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