The explosion in phone masts goes on and on

May 16 2007

FEARS surrounding mobile phone masts are nothing new, but they remain a topic that is rarely out of the headlines. With residents in Dorking ready to do battle against plans for a mast at Haybarn House, in South Street, SSIIO uncovers how many other masts are in Mole Valley

WITH mobile phones an essential part of everyday life for the vast majority of Britons,it is not surprising that the likes of Vodafone and O2 are always searching for better signal coverage.

We all want to be able to use our phones whenever and whereever we like and that demand has led to an explosion in the number of telecommunication masts going up around the country.

In the past five years Mole Valley District Council has decided on 110 applications for phone masts or related items. Of these, 74 have been allowed.

Locations for these masts range from railway stations, shops and golf clubs to theatres, post offices and pubs.

Farms are also a popular venue, and there are even some to be found at local churches.

The last full count of masts that Mole Valley District Council carried out was in 2002 when it listed 56 masts across the area.

But it is in the five years since this survey was carried out that the 110 applications were made for mobile phone masts in the area.

The council permitted 69 of these and refused 41. But of those that were refused 14 went to appeal and five were subsequently allowed - bringing the total in the district to 74.

Of all the telecommunication masts found in the region, Mole Valley District Council received rent on just one.

Income from that mast, which was located on the top of Wenlock Edge in Goodwyns,ended in February.

The total rent received amounted to just over £20,000 from the period of March 2002 to February 2007.

Time and again concerns are raised about possible health risks when masts are erected close to homes and schools.

The visual impact on the area is also often cited as a reason not to position a mast in a particular area.

The Ramblers' Association (RA), Britain's largest walking charity, has expressed concerns at the growing proliferation of masts and has been campaigning to ensure that developers are required to consult with communities affected by any mast proposal and that consideration is given to ways to minimising the impact of masts on the landscape.

A spokesman for the group said: "The RA believes that it is important for developers to carefully examine the visual impacts of masts before sites are chosen and high priority should be given to mast sharing and camouflaging in areas of countryside sensitive to visual impacts."

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Southern Limited 2007

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