New snag in bid to move mast

By Karen Grattage

RESIDENTS in Sheriff Hutton are facing a further delay in their campaign to have a mobile phone mast moved from near their homes.

Ryedale Council decided to seek legal advice before looking into whether it would be able to meet the £60,000 cost of moving the mast.

Protestors have led a long campaign after 600 villagers sent letters opposing the Orange telecommunications structure. continued...

But an administrative error meant the council missed the deadline for objections - giving the company the right to erect the mast at Dasket Hill in October last year.

At a meeting on Thursday evening, the council decided to instruct a barrister to find out whether it is possible to pay for moving the mast.

Planning committee chairman Coun Howard Keal said an answer was expected next month, and, if the council is entitled to make the payment, its Policy and Resources Committee will look into whether ratepayers' money should be spent.

Coun Keal said: "The protesters are saying on health grounds that the mast should not be near their homes - but according to the Government, there is no evidence it will present a risk to health. It is very difficult to sustain an argument that had the council got its objections in within the time limit it would have made any difference to the outcome."

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But he said the council was tightening up procedures to ensure it did not miss deadlines in future, and also to make sure residents are kept better informed.

Placard-wielding protesters, including several young children, met councillors outside the council chamber in Malton on Thursday to express their opposition to the mast's siting.

The villagers' determined campaign, which included picketing the area when engineers were erecting the mast, led to Orange negotiating with the council to find possible solutions.

The company agreed to look at moving the mast in the village - if the council foots the bill of at least £60,000.

But it is feared the cost could turn out to be higher, depending on the site found and how close it is to power lines.

Coun Keal said: "Protesters and everybody else will be unhappy that the situation is dragging on and we hope we can reach a conclusion as soon as possible for the sake of everyone concerned."

© Copyright 2001-2006 Newsquest Media Group

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