Defiant villagers unite against mobile phone mast

Resolute Cubbington villagers protested in force this week against O2 plans to install a mobile phone transmitter in the heart of the village. The communications firm has launched an appeal against a Warwick District Council decision to block the 12.5 metre construction.

Campaigners of all ages gathered on a grass verge outside the Rugby Tavern pub, where the equipment would stand, on Wednesday.

Lorraine Wright and her son Daniel, 3, were among around 100 people at the demonstration.

Mrs Wright, 46, of Dunblane Drive, said: "It's not just now, but the future we have got to think about.

"There are two schools nearby and the parents are worried about the effects on their children.

"Of course everybody needs a signal but it's the close proximity to where people live and work that worries us.

"I know it sounds like 'not in my back yard' but there are other places where the mast could be put.

"I don't think we know enough about the risks to have this equipment right in the middle of a residential area.

"If this gets passed where will it end?

"Other companies will want to expand their network into residential areas too."

Campaigner Shirley Rush, of Rugby Road, has been rallying opposition against the appeal, which will be dealt with by written representations to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.

A decision is likely to be announced in October.

Mrs Rush said: "We sent 900 letters out and had 600 protests back, which we are sending on.

"We are not against mobile phone masts, we just think they should be in an appropriate area, not a busy road close to two schools."

District council officers did not state health reasons - given no weight in planning terms - as grounds for refusal.

Instead they ruled the mast would spoil the character of the area and have a "harmful visual impact".

An O2 spokesman was not available for comment.

But the firm has repeatedly insisted the Rugby Road site - which would extend 3G coverage in a two-kilometre area - was chosen with care and there are no adverse health effects.

* O2 has put in an application for another 12.5 metre mast on a highways verge near the Warwick Gates estate in Tachbrook Road, Bishops Tachbrook.

Susan Villis, 56, of Reignier Place, said: "While I appreciate these masts must be sited somewhere, is close proximity to a large population with many young families a good place?

"This is especially so in the light of many recent reports of health concerns connected to these masts.

"In many areas people have lobbied to have them removed or placed further afield.

"I feel the residents of Warwick Gates should be made aware of what is being proposed."

11 August 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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