Families defeated in phone mast battle

23 February 2007 08:40

A battle to stop a mobile phone mast being built close to homes in Thorpe St Andrew has ended in defeat for the campaigners.

Families were furious when they learnt T Mobile wanted to install a 12 metre mast at the junction of the ring road and Pound Lane, opposite Sainsbury's.

They presented a survey which showed the majority of families were against the mast to Thorpe Town Council and Broadland District Council. But at a meeting of Broadland District Council's planning committee, councilors approved the plans despite the opposition to them.

Andy Street, 69, of Eastern Avenue in Thorpe, said: “We are disappointed, but councils have got their hands tied, with all the previous planning inspectorate decisions going in favour of mobile phone companies.

“I can understand where councils are coming from. They are worried they could be fined if they turn down applications without good reasons, and taxpayers will then have the burden of paying fines.

“I think the whole system needs to be overhauled, because local democracy is just not working. People are not being involved in the process. The Government is always talking about social inclusion, but it's not happening.”

After the meeting, Broadland District councillor and member of the planning committee, Dalmaine Dewgarde admitted the council was scared of repercussions if plans were turned down for no good reason.

He said: “The members were of a mind to refuse it, but we need good reason to refuse an application, and they could not find grounds to refuse it.

“Whether we like it or not, it's not of our making, the Government has given carte blanche to do these things, or people will end up with a big bill, when we are taken to court, and the decision is overturned.

“I abstained because I don't like the siting of the mast, right on the bend of a road. And nobody has ever proved to me that these masts are not dangerous. But you cannot turn down applications on health grounds.”

Earlier this month, anti-phone mast campaigners said a worrying precedent was set after Government planning chiefs overturned a council's refusal of a mobile phone mast.

Broadland District Council's refusal to allow mobile phone giant 02 to build a 12.5 metre mast on the verge in Dussindale Drive, Thorpe St Andrew was overturned on appeal. The application was originally rejected by the council last year amid fears the mast would have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the site and on neighbouring properties. Safety concerns were also raised. But the planning inspectorate dismissed the refusal stating there was little evidence to support health fears.

A spokesman for T Mobile said the mast was needed to provide a quality service.

“Without mobile phone base stations mobile phones simply do not work” he said. “All of our installations comply with stringent national and international guidelines.”

Omega read "Base Stations, operating within strict national and international Guidelines, do not present a Health Risk?" under: http://omega.twoday.net/stories/771911/ and
"Competing interests, conflicts of interest: Who's funding WHO?"under: http://omega.twoday.net/stories/3347390/

The Evening News thrust the issue of mobile phone masts firmly into the public spotlight with its Put Masts on Hold campaign, which opposes installing mobile phone masts near homes and schools until it is proved they are safe.

Are you fighting against a mobile phone mast? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2 @archant.co.uk

Copyright © 2007 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.



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