Phone firm in mast bid

By Gordon Rogers

Mobile phone company T-Mobile has refused to give up on plans to build a new mast on an industrial estate in Abingdon - and objectors are also determined to fight on.

Two years ago, O2 (UK) wanted to put up a 15 metre transmitter at Allens Carparts in Radley Road, but was refused planning permission.

Last year, T-Mobile put forward similar proposals which met the same fate following complaints from local residents and Abingdon Town Council. Planners said the mast would be visually intrusive and too close to homes.

Undeterred, T-Mobile has come back with an alternative plan with a 12 metre-high mast. The company said it needs a new transmitter to cope with growing demand. Richard Nash from AWA, the company which is working to find a site for T-Mobile, said the new proposals were for a 12m high telegraph pole mast. Antennas would be enclosed in a shroud and there would be no external dishes.

He said: "We believe that the mast is an appropriate one for a commercial site in an urban setting. Due to its lesser bulk and height it is less intrusive than that of either the previous proposal or the existing Orange mast close to the site."

But nearby resident Ernie Wright, from Galley Fields, said: "This issue won't lie down even though we have won two previous campaigns.

"The new mast might be three metres shorter, but it will be closer to Radley Road and Thomas Reade School. We already have an ugly mast that towers over us and we don't want another."

Mr Nash said the new mast would be partly screened by a mature tree that would provide a backdrop to the mast. When seen from nearby homes it would be almost directly in line with the trunk of the tree.

He said several other sites on the estate had been discounted either because there was insufficient room or the landowner was not willing to accommodate a site.

He added: "The proposed site is in a scrapyard. The siting of an appropriately designed mast would not have any more impact on adjacent residential properties in terms of disturbance. We looked at sharing space on the existing Orange mast but there's not enough room."

Mr Nash said the company had contacted local councillors and Rush Common and Kingfisher schools and was prepared to widen the consultation process. The Vale of White Horse District Council is looking at T-Mobile's latest proposals and a report will be drawn up for councillors to consider.

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