NEW TETRA THREAT TO TOWN CENTRE

Kevin Smith - Bognor Regis Observer 14.12.06

Three controversial TETRA antennae could be installed in Bognor Regis town centre. News of the proposed installation comes less than three years after a community campaign to keep the town free from the telecom equipment. Strong fears surround the alleged health risks of the masts which are switched on around the clock providing a modern communication system for the emergency services.

Airwave MM02 has stated it wants to site the new antennae on the top of the town's only multi-story block of flats. It envisages putting up the structures, each about nine metres high, on the roof of the plant room which stands on the top of the roof of the 15-storey building in Queensway. The company's move comes after it was forced to remove the only previous TETRA mast in Bognor in May 2004.

A concerted campaign resulted in the mast being taken down from the roof of the Reynolds depositary in Canada Grove. Company owner Dominic Reynolds backed the campaign once they discovered the mast's presence three months earlier. His support for them meant 02 subsidiary Airwave had to dismantle the mast. Protestors spoke about sleepless nights, headaches, nausea and nosebleeds being caused by the effects of the continuous transmissions.

District councillor Paul Wells (Bognor Hotham) said: "I am extremely disappointed that, after all the hard work that went into removing the TETRA mast in 2004, 02 should want to put up another one in the heart of the town. There were a lot of concerns and fears of local residents about the alleged health risks caused by the previous mast. Now two years later, we are back to square one with regard to having to fight this matter. To have this particular system right in the middle of Bognor where people live and work is unacceptable in my opinion. I can't believe that 02 want to put this mast here after the previous campaign."

A TETRA mast is working in Felpham on the Bognor Regis Golf Club course.
02 threatened to take the club to court last march when it tried to cancel the contract to enable the mast to be sited between its fairways. Alan Taylor of Felpham Residents Against TETRA, said: "We did have a campaign to have the mast removed because we didn't want it there. Some people have alleged it has caused them some distress. If the police are so confident that the system is safe, they should have put the mast on the top of the police station."

Don Proctor, the planning director of RPS Planning, which has issued the consultation documents about the mast, provides details of the intended antennae. He says in a letter; "We are committed to seeking to address concerns regarding telecommunications equipment particularly where the siting of such equipment is near to sites such as schools and hospitals or near to residential areas."

02 has consistently maintained that the TETRA masts pose no danger to the public. It has been said that they meet all the relevant health and safety requirements.


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