Church tower could house phone antenna

CONCERN has been raised in Bishop's Waltham about the proposed siting of a mobile phone mast in St Peter's Church tower.

St Peter's Parochial Church council said it had been approached with a view to a cell-phone antenna being mounted in the tower.

The proposal by QS4 Ltd - appointed by the Church of England to negotiate with mobile phone operators on behalf of all churches - is to be discussed by the church faculty, which decides on any alterations inside or outside of the church.

Pat Wilson, a member of the St Peter's Church Parochial Church Council, said she was opposed to a mast being placed in St Peter's.

She said: "I thought the church was the heart of the community and I feel it will end up a cancer of the community.

"I am a practising Christian and I feel the church should be more responsible. There is no other reason for this but financial gain."

However, as part of the consultation process, some people living nearby have raised no objections about the plans.

Paul Emmerson, churchwarden at St Peter's Church, said more people are to be encouraged to give their views to the Parochial Church Council.

Karen Barratt, a spokesman for Wessex Registry Against Masts, speaking about masts being placed in church buildings, said: "This is not uncommon.

"There are hundreds of examples of objections to masts going up on churches, and the trouble is planning legislation is pretty weak when it comes to phone masts.

"Unless people have been living on a desert island for the last 10 years, everyone knows there is a lot of concern regarding what effects phone masts have on health.

"I think it is very bad that these things can sneak through without a proper planning process that involves the public.

"In Bishop's Waltham's case, as long as the church is going to consult and be open and up front about this, it is better than some churches do."

The Rev Andy Davis, of St Peter's Church, was unavailable to comment on the plan at the time of going to press.

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