Residents win in phone mast fight

RESIDENTS at Low Stanners in Morpeth have won their battle to prevent a four-storey telephone mast from overshadowing their homes.

Mobile phone giant O2 hoped to erect the 20-metre pole with three antennas at Wellway Garage.

The mast, which would have stood metres from the River Wansbeck, has been rejected by Castle Morpeth Council's planners.

Nearby homeowners at Staithes Lane sent a 40-signature petition to the authority's development services committee to oppose the structure.

They claimed that the mast, four times taller than the garage itself, would become a health hazard for local children.

Isobel Pringle, of Staithes Lane, said at the meeting: "The residents of Low Stanners do not want a 73feet high telephone mast on their doorsteps.

"Some are worried that the value of their homes will drop and we are all concerned because there is still a huge question mark over how these things affect your health.

"And there are no complaints about signals on mobile phones from people who live here so I don't see why this mast is necessary."

She added: "We live amidst trees and rivers, that's Morpeth's motto.

"How can a giant telephone mast next to the river fit into the Government-funded Castles, Woods and Water project?"

Committee member Coun Edward Trevelyan said: "This is a very simple application for us. It is against planning guidelines and would impact on the local area. It must be refused."

An identical application from 02 for a 20-metre pole at Bridge Street was rejected by borough planners earlier this year.

Planning officers will now work with the company to find suitable sites outside the town centre.

Hugh Edmundson, head of the development services department, said: "So far 02 has targeted the town centre which is going to be unsuccessful but there may be more suitable, elevated sites in the outskirts of Morpeth."

Officer Mike McCourt added: "The company has now exhausted all possible sites in the town but still has an obligation to provide its customers with network coverage."

Councillors voted unanimously to reject 02's proposals.

28 August 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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