Protesters battle to fight another telephone mast

editorial @hamhigh.co.uk
18 May 2007
John Marr

A GROUP of campaigners from West Hampstead are furious that mobile phone giant O2 wants to install another telephone mast on their doorsteps.

Vodafone installed a mast in Iverson Road back in 2003 and last year Orange was given permission to put one up near Iverson Tyres.

The installation of the Orange structure has been delayed because the telecommunications giant is seeking planning permission for a series of other masts in West Hampstead.

And now residents are furious that O2 has been given permission to put up a 15 metre mast in a similar spot on Iverson Road.

Trader Colin Slade, who runs clothes shop The Penguin Society on West End Lane, said: "The community as a whole feels very strongly about this mast and the location of it will be blocking the most fabulous view of the sunset."

Candice Temple, who lives nearby, added: "This ugly structure will de-grade the area and turn leafy Iverson Road into an industrial wasteland.

"The Vodafone mast is a graffiti ridden eyesore and it's also supposed to have railings around it, but it doesn't."

Neighbour Samantha Morgan said: "Vodafone don't follow up with cleaning off the graffiti and urine that the mast attracts. It's truly what the residents feared."

The campaigners, who have gathered a petition with 300 signatures, also fear an influx of masts to the area will lead to health risks because of increased radiation levels.

But council chiefs cannot take health concerns into consideration when deciding whether to grant planning permission for masts. They can only look at the suitability of designs and locations.

Roger Tavener, chairman of C. Tavener & Son, who owns the premises opposite Iverson Tyres, is furious that the council didn't consult him over plans for the new mast.

"We're the longest established private company in the area, we've been on this road since the 1930s, and to be ignored is absolutely monstrous. We only hear about these things once they've been rubberstamped."

O2 spokesman James Stevenson said "We believe the mast is perfectly safe. We understand people's feelings on the matter - we will come to speak to them about the masts, about the health issues, about our need to improve our service. I will come to speak to them, or else we can hold a meeting where they can come to us."

Copyright © 2007 Archant Regional Limited. All rights reserved.

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