Church says it was misled on mast plan

Sep 22 2006

By The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

CHURCH officials at the centre of a mobile phone mast row feel they have been misled by the telecommunications company.

Residents of Clayton West are protesting about Hutchison 3G putting a new aerial on top of the village's United Reformed Church in Church Lane.

Resident Audrey Booth, along with more than 100 other villagers, is worried about the mast on health grounds.

They also feel the church has not been entirely straight with them over the planning process.

Previously a spokesman for the church had refused to comment.

But now a statement on behalf of the church and the URC Yorkshire Synod has been issued.

It said that Hutchison 3G had put a mobile phone aerial on the church roof.

It went on: "The church is being paid £6,000 per annum by the company.

"It is already using the money to provide new toilets and to improve disabled access for the local community.

"Among the groups using its premises are a youth club and a men's group every two weeks."

The statement added that Hutchison had told church trustees that people could object to the planned aerial to Kirklees Council planners when the planing application was submitted.

It goes on: "Neither the church nor the trustees were aware, until recently, that this information was incorrect.

"We have since been advised that installations of this type do not need permission, because they are treated as `permitted development' by the planning regulations.

"The church shares the concerns of local residents that they appear to have been misled about any objections being heard as part of planning process.

"When the request was received from Hutchison 3G the church elders obtained professional advice and support and also held a public consultation for local residents."

A Hutchison 3G spokesman said: "We appreciate the church's concern about the consultation process undertaken for our proposed radio base station.

"We are committed to undertaking further discussion with those in the local community who have concerns about the proposals, in order to provide additional information and address the key issues."

Mrs Booth, who lives near the church, said of church officials: "There must have been a point when they knew the mast was going ahead, at least at the signing of the contract.

"Did they ever consider the people at all at that time?"

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Limited 2006

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