Fears over bid to put phone mast near schools

PETER WALSH
15 March 2007 12:16

A telecommunications giant has announced controversial plans to install a mobile phone mast close to homes - and within a mile of three schools.

O2 has submitted plans for a 12.5 metre mast mock telegraph pole near to Earlham Road police station, but also within half-a-mile of Heigham Park First School, St Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary School and within a mile of Earlham High School.

Today, Alan Shawcross, deputy head of Earlham High School, said he was very concerned that a mast should be proposed so close to local schools.

"Anything that might affect the development of a child or younger children feeding into our school we would have a concern about - there are concerns around mobile phone masts which haven't been resolved and need further research," he said.

Mr Shawcross said any decision about objecting to the plans for the mast, which is to be a mock telegraph pole shrouded in its wood cladding, would be for the governors.

The Evening News is campaigning against the installation of mobile phone masts near homes and schools until it is proved they are safe.

In January 2005, Sir William Stewart, chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board, published an independent report calling for a precautionary approach to masts near homes and schools.

But an Evening News investigation the same month revealed one in five primary schools in Norwich and its suburbs was within the threshold which experts claim could put youngsters at risk.

Plans by O2 for a mast on Earlham Road close to the police station follows a similar application by the company which was thrown out by the city council's planning committee in January.

City planners went against the recommendations of officers to approve proposals by O2 for a 12.5m mock telegraph mast next to the police station and said it would be 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 also said that although the mast would not interfere with its main Airwave communication system, it might have caused "localised blocking" of police mobile phones and blackberries.

Rupert Read, a Green city councillor for Wensum ward, said: "It seems fishy that O2 are putting in such a similar planning application again after the one they had before was rejected. I think it's clear that people in the area don't want a mast there. Itan unwelcome intrusion on the local landscape and creates potential health concerns."

In places like the United States and Germany mobile masts cannot be built within 500 metres of homes and schools.

Are you opposing a mobile phone mast in your area? Call Evening Peter Walsh on 01603 772439 or email peter.walsh @archant.co.uk

Copyright © 2007 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.

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