Phone mast wins permission

A controversial scheme to install a mobile phone mast in the green belt in Kenilworth has won planning permission.

For the past year Warwick District Council's planning committee has fought off applications for mobile phone masts in the town.

But at a meeting on Wednesday members of the committee agreed with planning officers that the perceived health risks did not justify refusing an application by mobile phone company Hutchinson 3G to erect a 17.5metre mast in Chase Lane.

They said the visual impact would be minimal, the mast would not be in direct line with Priors Field School situated 500metres away and it meets the guidelines for public exposure.

Chase Lane resident Roger Stevens spoke on behalf of neighbours and drew attention to the possible health risks of masts.

He said: "The intensity of the microwave radiation from these aerials is much higher than previous generations.

"The proposed mast will be next to one of the most used footpaths and bridleways in Kenilworth.

"It is well documented that young children are more at risk of ill health from these masts and as residents we are not happy with this."

Mr Stevens added residents had the full support of the Council Protection for Rural England, which believes the mast will change the character of historic and peaceful countryside.

Speaking as ward councillor, Coun Michael Coker (Con, Kenilworth Abbey) reminded the committee that the council was in the green belt, the town's conservation area and near Kenilworth Castle.

He said: "The imposition of this particular item would be completely out of character. It should be an area which is protected more than most. I don't believe that other sites could not be found."

But Coun Bertie Mackay (Ind, Stoneleigh) said this was a decision where the head had to overrule the heart.

He said the distances of 230m and 475m from housing meant almost 80 per cent of masts were nearer development.

He added: "I can't honestly say this is unsightly. I can't honestly say this constitutes a threat.

"And whether this is a lattice mast or not, the reality is that conservation area or not, greenbelt or not the position of the mast, the sparsity of the population and the lack of unsightliness is such that we can only come to one conclusion and that is that we should approve the recommendation."

Councillors voted to allow the mast, subject to the conditions in the agenda.

23 November 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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