Victory for fight against phone mast

PETER WALSH
05 January 2007 08:33

Families have won a fight to stop a mobile phone mast being installed near to homes and a city police station - although it is feared the company will try to put up another mast nearby.

City planners went against the recommendations of officers to approve proposals by O2 for a 12.5m mock telegraph mast next to Earlham Road police station. They said it would have been an eyesore.

More than 40 people had raised concerns about the plans and planning committee members received 11 letters of objection, citing visual impact and health fears.

Police officers at the nearby station had also said whereas the mast would not interfere with its main Airwave communication system, it might have caused localised “blocking” of police mobile phones and blackberries.

Adrian Holmes, vice chair of the planning committee and a Green city councillor for Wensum ward, said: “Police community support officers rely on mobile communications and they will be the ones affected as they will be in and around the local area.”

But Mr Holmes said he had to go against recommendations to approve, because there were no assurances it would not affect police mobile the mast would be an eyesore. “There is a definite visual impact, even though it's been designed as a wooden telegraph pole,” he said.

Rupert Read, a Green city councillor for Wensum ward, made his objections to the scheme known to the planning committee before it met.

He said he had been contacted by about 12 residents, who were all concerned about the health risks and visual impact associated with the mast.

“It is my view, and I believe the view of the vast majority of local residents, that while there is severe scientific doubt over the safety of such installations, it would be incautious and potentially negligent for such an installation to be given the go-ahead,” he said.

Although campaigners will be delighted at the victory, there are fears O2 might use a legal loophole to put up a similar size mast, which is not shrouded, across the road.

Although O2 was refused permission for the mast last March and the decision was made in the prescribed time, a “procedural error”, which occurred when the council used technically incorrect wording in a letter to O2, meant the phone company has claimed consent by default.

Are you battling a mobile phone mast where you live? Call Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772439
or email peter.walsh @archant.co.uk

Copyright © 2007 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.

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