Fury as phone mast appears

By Jemma Dobson

MAST PROTEST: Neighbours are furious about the siting of a phone mast near their homes

A COMMUNITY has been left "outraged" after a mobile phone mast was erected without planning permission.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has launched an investigation into the sudden appearance of the 28-metre- high mast in Eclipse Mill, off Park Farm Road, Feniscowles.

Today a spokesman for Hutchinson 3G said engineers had installed the mast as a temporary measure for 28 days in a bid to see how best reception could be improved in the area.

Masts over 15 metres need planning permission, but residents claim there was no such application or consultation.

But the spokesman for Hutchinson 3G indicated that the 28-day test meant planning laws could be by-passed for a limited period.

Hutchinson 3G has rented the land on which the mast stands from packaging firm Premier Cases.

Robin Green, managing director of Premier Cases, said his company did not want a permanent mast there.

The mast was installed last Friday and within hours council officers visited the site after receiving scores of complaints.

Adam Scott, director of regeneration at the council, said: "Council staff are investigating but I have yet to see the findings."

Coun Derek Hardman, who represents Feniscowles, claimed the mast was also in breach of guidelines which state they should not be erected close to schools.

He added: "The mast is within a few hundred metres of St Paul's RC Primary School. New regulations mean this should not be done. I certainly don't recall any planning permission being applied for and certainly not granted. The people of Feniscowles are outraged."

Resident Mike Britnell, 58, of St Martins Drive, which backs onto the site said: "It's an eyesore. It's a monstrosity. We were not consulted because we would have said no."

Mr Green, of Premier Cases, said: "We have rented the land to Hutchinson 3G for six months for the temporary mast.

"Under our agreement it was their responsibility to seek the relevant permission. We would not have agreed to a permanent mast and have refused such requests in the past."

The Hutchinson 3G spokesman added: "We had been receiving complaints from our mobile phone customers that they were getting a bad reception in the area.

"We are allowed to have the structure up for 28 days before seeking planning permission under telecommunication planning regulations."

7:00pm today

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