Bungling planners reignite mobile mast row

hg.editorial @archant.co.uk

20 April 2007

A CONTROVERSIAL phone mast is to be built just metres from London Fields park and the newly-refurbished lido because of an administrative blunder made by the council almost three years ago.

Mobile phone company, T-mobile, started preliminary work this week on erecting the 10-metre-high mast in Richmond Road, Dalston, after receiving planning permission in error after the council had rejected the application.

Residents of nearby Wayman Court, who have opposed the plans for three years, thought they had escaped the threat, only to discover work to build the mast was going ahead on Monday morning.

Violet Green, chairwoman of Wayman Court tenants' and residents' association, said that she felt let down by both T-mobile and the council, who, she believed, had come to an agreement not to use the site.

"I'm in an absolute rage about this because we were told they were going to be given an alternative site," she said.

Sarah Byrne, a mother who lives in Wayman Court with her two children, Shea, five, and Ciar, four, who go to Gayhurst Primary School in Gayhurst Road, is worried about her children's health.

"Most of my children's lives will be in the vicinity of this mast, whether they are at home or at school," she said.

"We thought that was it when we stopped the mast being built years ago."

Planning permission was granted after the council failed to inform T-mobile that the application, which was submitted in May, 2004, had been refused in the allotted time of 56 days.

Legally, the phone company was able to go ahead with the mast, despite vociferous opposition from residents.

The council told T-mobile it would find the company an alternative site, a situation that was confirmed by a Hackney Council spokeswoman this week.

She said the council was negotiating with T-mobile to try and resolve the issue and that three alternatives sites for the mast had been discussed, but none had been taken up by T-mobile.

Barry Turner-Smith, community relations officer for T-mobile, said after two years of waiting, the company had decided to go ahead on the original site.

"We have been waiting two years and tried to negotiate with the council on alternative sites, but nothing has come about," he said.

"We have planning permission to build this mast and we will be going ahead with it."

He refuted claims that the mast would pose a danger to residents' health, adding that it uses radio waves, similar to those given out by TVs and radios, and believed that the majority of those protesting used mobile phones.

Violet Green hit back, saying that residents would not allow the mast to go up and would lie down in front of diggers, if forced to.

"I don't agree that just because people own a mobile phone that they should get a phone mast in their backyard," she said.

"These people are riding roughshod over us and they forget that I've got the human right to live in my house without looking at this horrible, horrendous mast that may or may not give me cancer.

Copyright © 2007 Archant Regional Limited. All rights reserved.



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