Residents 'not told' about phone mast

A TINY community near Ashover has been shocked by plans to build a giant mobile phone mast in their midst, without their knowledge.

People living on Holestone Gate Road claim they had no idea T-Mobile had applied to erect the 18-metre mast – even though Ashover Parish Council advised the firm to warn residents of their plans.

The plans have been lodged after fierce opposition led T-Mobile to withdraw a proposal to build a mast close to another farm in the village.

But at least one resident is now planning to fight the new application because of fears it will dominate the area and be a safety hazard.

James McKay, who lives on the road, said: "We have been treated like mushrooms – no-one has told us anything at all.

"There are only about six of us up here and I have rung round all of them this morning and no-one knew anything about it.

"They may have spoken to a couple of cows or sheep but they haven't spoken to any humans."

Mr McKay said there was an A4 notice in the field where the mast would be built, but that people would have to walk along a dangerous section of Holestone Gate Road to see it.

He added: "It's going to be so intrusive and also the power output for it to be able to cover Chesterfield and Bakewell is going to be astronomical."

Ashover Parish Council clerk Sarah Atkinson said she had replied to a pre-application letter from T-Mobile recommending that the firm consult local people about their plans.

The council has concerns about the size of the mast and has asked that screening be put in place wherever possible.

A spokesman for T-Mobile said the site had been chosen after discussion with North East Derbyshire District Council following the collapse of plans to build a mast near Hill Top Farm.

He said: "The site that we are at now is one that we were pointed in the direction of as a preferred site.

"It is hard to imagine that there was anybody that was not aware of our interest in the original site or that this location was also preferred."

And he added that T-Mobile follows an industry-wide code of practice for consultation but that this does not dictate the firm must write to residents.

26 July 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.



Operators are less cagey about what consultation means these days. I have heard Vodafone say explicitly to councils and MPs that consultation is not what you think, and it certainly isn't actually more than notification. The Code of Best Practice letter really is the sum of it, and there is no expectation to be had that anyone is actually being asked or invited to discuss.

I noticed this one from T-Mobile in that last Omega posting ( and such shame; I know Ashover and now I know it won't look the same again) :

"And he [spokesperson] added that T-Mobile follows an industry-wide code of practice for consultation but that this does not dictate the firm must write to residents."

They just know they can act with impunity because the government and its planning inspectorate is right behind them.

I wonder how this all squares with Ruth Kelly's supposed morality, now she is in charge where Prescott once ruled? (Maybe she's just copping out or "abstaining".) But minister for communities? Or minister for the mobile industry? No good asking, you'll get the same pat answers and "people want phones so people want masts". She never disagrees with the party line.


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