'We don't want this mast to get higher'

By ALISON BELLAMY

RESIDENTS have launched a campaign to stop the extension of an already huge mobile phone mast blighting their view.

More than 100 people living near the Yorkshire Amateurs Football Club, Chapel Allerton, have sent letters of complaint to Leeds City Council, to say they do not want the 17.5 metre mast to go any higher.

But mobile phone provider O2 Airwaves has applied to extend the mast to 20 metres, which it says will improve the existing network purely for emergency services.

And the company believes its plan is likely to go ahead, as it is vital that emergency services have a clear network.

The cash-strapped football club has in previous years made money from having the masts in the ground, yet today said the latest development had nothing to do with them.

Today David Packham, secretary of the Bracken Edge Ground Company, which owns the club, said: "The new application could not be blamed on the club or owners, because, as far as I understand, it is the mobile phone company which had applied to improve its signal and technology with a larger mast."

But fears for health of local residents and well as players at the Roxholme Road club, has caused locals to object.

Resident Jill Harland, 32, said: "We are concerned about the appearance of a 20m mast. It would be very close to houses and people would see it on a daily basis. It would also spoil views from Gledhow Valley Woods.

"We successfully fought a plan for another mast two years ago and now we have to do it all again."

Chapel Allerton Labour Councillor Mohammed Rafique (Lab, Chapel Allerton) is backing them. He said: "In their latest bid O2 Airwaves want to replace and extend the height of the 17.5m high mast at the nearby Yorkshire Amateur's football Ground to 20m while adding six antennaes and two dishes."

He said that two years ago a campaign by local residents had played an important part in the council turning down O2's application to erect another 25-foot high mast at the site.

The council and Planning Inspectorate cited the damaging impact the mast would have on the aesthetic quality of the area as the main reason to refuse the application.

He added: "Who is to say that if this application is successful O2 might decide they want to enlarge it again in the future?"

Ray Weldon, of O2 Airwaves, said: "The extension is just to improve the resilience of the existing network. It is purely for emergency service use such as police, fire and ambulance and is in the interests of public safety. It is not to expand the network."

All rights reserved ©2007 Johnston Press Digital Publishing

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