Row over phone mast plan for church tower

11 October 2006

PROTESTERS are preparing to fight plans to site a mobile phone mast on Bideford Parish Church.

The Rector, the Reverend Mike Edson, confirmed that, following an approach by the company Q4, the parochial church council had expressed interested "in principle," on the understanding that they could withdraw at any time.

But following a meeting called by the church for its neighbours, some residents have expressed concern and are inviting others to join them.

Mrs Elizabeth Roberts, who is a church member, said: "There are many uncertainties over the risks to human health from these masts, but much statistical evidence that they are harmful to people and particularly to children.

"While there is any doubt at all over safety I feel that these masts should not be put up in centres of human habitation."

Tim Langdon, who lives in Church Walk, said his main concern was that a mast on the church tower would be in line and on the same level as houses up the hill in Buttgarden Street, just 50-60 metres away.

"It strikes me that this scheme was designed for rural churches where the towers are higher than the surrounding houses, not on the same level as people's windows."

A protest group was now being formed, he said, and they would make representations to the planning meeting of the council.

Mr Edson said Q4 had a duty to consult on the plans with householders within a 50 metre radius, but they had contacted 179 people living within 100 metres. Three responses were received in opposition.

When it was realised that some people in the immediate area of Tower Street and Church Walk did not get the consultation letters, which went out in May/June, a church meeting was called on September 27 for these neighbours to attend.

"There is a planning process to be pursued," he said. "If there is any proven evidence that there is the slightest risk to health, we would not proceed.

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