Cubbington protesters lose phone mast battle

Campaigners have reacted with disbelief after learning they have lost their fight against a mobile phone mast being built next to a Cubbington pub.

Hundreds signed a petition earlier this year against the plan to install a 12m antenna next to the Rugby Tavern in Rugby Road, and felt victorious after Warwick District Council refused permission for the proposal.

But phone company O2 appealed against the council's decision - and this week overturned it after the Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol, ruled that there were no valid reasons for refusing permission.

And the decision has infuriated those who battled hard to stop the mast being erected. Rugby Road resident Shirley Rush, who lives opposite the pub, said: "It seems unbelieveable. There's nothing else we can do now. We've tried everything. It shows that big business, with all its resources, will always win. It's very sad."

Local authorities are not allowed to use health fears to refuse phone mast applications, and there is no proven link between such masts and illness among people living near them. The district council instead turned down the plan because it felt the mast would harm the appearence of the area - and it was on these grounds that the Planning Inspectorate overruled the council.

Inspector Leslie Coop said: "There is already a considerable amount of street furniture along this part of Rugby Road, including 10m high street lighting columns on both sides of the road.

"I am satisfied the mast would blend into the street scene, particularly if the mast and cabinets were to be of an appropriate colour.

"The operator has an obligation to provide a network serving at least 80 per cent of the population by the end of 2007 and I consider this outweighs any minor visual impact that the proposed development would have."

The ruling comes just weeks after protesters in Old Milverton successfully stopped O2 building a mast in the village, which it had tried to do three times.

The Planning Inspectorate agreed in that case that the roadside mast would be a risk to traffic.

30 November 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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