Residents round on mast plan

A LEADING mobile phone company has been criticised over its plans to build a 50 foot mast close to an old people’s home, a health centre and a college in Kilkeel.

Work has already started on installing a base for the mast adjacent to the Greencastle Street area and directly behind Kilkeel library, with O2 granted planning permission within the last few weeks. The telecommunications giant originally applied for permission in June of last year, with the application being advertised in the press.

However, one local source told the Democrat that there is widespread public disquiet about the imminent arrival of the mast, with many questioning the logic of positioning it close to a health centre.

“It’s very close to the clinic and the library and people aren’t too happy about it,” she said. “ On top of that, it’s going to be a complete eyesore.”

A representative of the nearby Slieve Roe nursing home, which currently houses 23 pensioners, said she and other staff were unaware of the proposed mast but predicted that relatives of some of the residents will be concerned at the plans.

“I’d prefer if we’d been consulted about this,” she said. “I know it must have been advertised in the papers but we knew nothing about it. It would be something that we’d need to know about. I think that the families of some of our residents might be concerned about a phone mast being put up so close to us.

“I suppose these masts have to go somewhere because people aren’t going to go without their mobiles but surely it would be better if they were put up away from built-up areas.”

Concerns about the mast were echoed by Kilkeel based councillor Henry Reilly, who described himself as disappointed that Newry and Mourne District Council “hasn’t acted” on the situation.

“It seems like it’s a massive piece of equipment to be going into a town centre,” the UK Independence Party representative told the Democrat. “If it was to facilitate the ambulances or something like that it would be different but there’s already excellent O2 coverage here in Kilkeel so I don’t see any need for it.”

Mr Reilly explained that the Council generally has a policy that telephone masts aren’t put up within 500 yards of any dwellings but accepted that this isn’t always possible.

“Because there’s no medical proof that these things are harmful, that sort of objection can’t be taken into account,” he added. “But from an aesthetic point of view this mast isn’t going to be the prettiest thing for the centre of the town.”

An O2 spokesman said the mast is to be installed to meet growing demand in the area.

“When we started looking for a site, a meeting was held with the Council and subsequently no objections to the site were raised during the planning process,” he explained.

“Whilst I understand the concerns of local residents, I would have to reiterate that there have been over 500 research studies into mobile phone technology and health and so far no scientific link has been made. Mobile phone masts are very low powered radio transmitters and we would emphasise this to locals.”

Omega many scientific link has been made. See under:

© Newry Democrat, 2007.


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