Church ditches phone mast plan

By East Lothian Newsroom

Thursday November 2, 2006

CONTROVERSIAL plans to erect a mobile phone mast inside the tower of Haddington West Church have been scrapped in the face of protests from residents.

Members of the NO 2 O2 action group collected 1,645 signatures in a petition against phone operator O2’s bid to install a ‘base station’ inside the Court Street church.

Fears were raised by locals who linked phone mast emissions to an increased risk of leukaemia.

Desiree Dunkinson, of Victoria Road, who led placard-waving battlers in silent protests outside the church, claimed independent research had shown that people living within 300 metres of such a mast could “suffer serious health effects”.

But at a meeting on Monday, members of the West Church’s congregational board passed a motion to end talks with O2, who had submitted a planning application to East Lothian Council for the transmitter, killing the base station plan stone dead.

A West Church spokesman told the Courier: “We have heard the voice of the community and the clear expression of perceived danger.

“Irrespective of the assurances provided by the official bodies set up to protect us, the board decided that this was principally a matter of relationships and that the Christian way was to build bridges rather than create barriers.”

The purpose of Monday’s meeting was to allow members to consider information and various opinions before making a decision on the matter.

NO 2 O2 handed over the petition, while board members also learned of the concerns of staff and parents at local schools and a number of congregation members.

The church learned there were 116 masts in East Lothian, many in town centres and closer to schools than the West Church.

An alternative motion to delay a decision until a number of current studies into potential risks had been published and evaluated was also defeated.

Mrs Dunkinson, who saw two cousins battle leukaemia, welcomed the board’s decision.

“We are delighted with the result that they are not going ahead with the 3Gmast and so will be all the people from Haddington who have supported us and have signed the petition,” she said.

“We would like to thank everybody who has helped and supported us with this campaign.

“The support has truly been amazing. We would like to thank the West Church for listening to the concerns of the community.”



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