Residents suffer mast appeal defeat

Published: 23rd March 2006

RESIDENTS of Rhodes say they are upset and disillusioned after proposals to build a mobile phone mast on Manchester Old Road were given planning permission on appeal.

T-Mobile applied to build a ‘telecommunications monopole’ and equipment cabinet on ground in front of the West Croft Industrial Estate last year, and were knocked back by Middleton’s councillors in September.

But the company appealed against the decision and has since been given permission to go ahead by the planning inspectorate.

Inspector Paul Taylor, who allowed the appeal, says in his report: "that the mast would not be ‘particularly incongruous in the street scene’ and harm caused to the local environment would 'not be very great’".

He also says that ‘exposure levels for people living near to mobile phone base stations are not likely to be dangerous’ and ‘concerns of local residents about health are not sufficient to justify withholding approval for the proposed development’.

Omega this is not true. See under:

This comes after local people fought long and hard to get planning permission refused. A group of approximately 15 objectors attended September’s planning meeting to convince the committee that such a mast was not wanted in Rhodes, due to fears that it may affect the health of locals, the local environment and house prices.

With a heartfelt presentation to the meeting they won the day, and the plans were rejected. But then, in December, residents heard that T-Mobile was appealing against the decision.

Many wrote to the planning inspectorate to object once again and are now angry and upset that their feelings apparently didn’t count.

Councillor Peter Williams has been against the mast from the start. He said he was especially frustrated at the decision because there is already a mobile phone mast there, and he was worried this could set a dangerous precedent for mobile phone companies building new masts rather than sharing other companies' equipment.

He said: "I’m very disappointed, and very annoyed on behalf of the residents who got together and tried to fight this."

Mum-of-two Alison Webster, 39, led the residents’ protest last year. She said she was disillusioned upon hearing that the plans had gone through, and felt that locals’ views had been ignored.

She said: "We felt that we did it democratically and we did it the right way. We got the support of the committee, bar one member, so we were very sad to hear this.

"The government say that people don't vote anymore, but you can see why. The big companies have won the day again.

"All the neighbours can't believe it. It means now, when anything else happens, people will get the opinion they don't matter. People aren't going to fight any more. It's as if we're just the little people that have to live with this on our doorsteps."

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First published by the Middleton Guardian

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