Angry villagers in fear of health risk

How Bicton BEAT the Tetra Mast!

Just to share with you the enjoyment of a Shropshire (UK) village community´s hard won victory over Airwave Tetra (O2), who applied for a planning permission for a Tetra Mast in the middle of their village, next to their hommes and near to 4 schools. Eleanor Howells, Bicton, Shropshire, has sent me an account of events during the villagers fight to get the mast application turned down, and after all their hard work they have succeded, the application has been refused, and O2 now say they will install the mast far away from the villages homes and schools.

I hope those of you with websites or newsletters you will publish this, as this might help other fighting communities with a strategy to success.

I have named it: How Bicton BEAT the Tetra Mast! Advice to other community groups fighting mast applications next to their homes and schools!


So here is Eleanors account:

What we did to get the proposed Tetra mast in Bicton turned down! Firstly we formed a group, three families, we had all received letters about the proposal from the planning office. Luckily for us one member of the group had plenty of experience with planning issues. I would advise anyone who is going through this to find someone who really knows the ins and outs of planning. We also found the advise and support from David Baron extremely helpful.

My first job was to start a petition, even though it only counts as one object, it gave me the chance to speak to nearly everyone in the area. I gave out a leaflet with a map of the area, the mast site marked on it and a circle measuring out 600m from the mast. This helped a lot, as some neighbours felt the mast was nowhere near their house. Also we put a little bit of info about Tetra and website addresses for mast sanity, mast victims and tetra watch.

We contacted all the local schools (4 within 480m of the mast). They had not heard or been informed about the mast either. Each school sent out letters to the parents informing them of the proposal and gave out website addresses for Tetra watch etc. They also asked parents to right objections to the planning office.

We contacted every business in the area to inform them and ask them to write objection letters too.

At first we didn't have much luck with our MP as it wasn't something his office thought he could deal with. so we asked villagers to email him, our borough and county councillors, local news papers and the MP. This worked and The MP came out to the proposed mast site. We had over a hundred villagers at an hours notice to meet with him their. We took photos and sent them into the local press.

Because this mast site would have been so close to cattle contain in a very large shed, we contacted The RSPCA, VIVA and other local animal rights groups. They all wrote to the planning office and the farmer allowing the mast.

We held a public meeting within a week of finding out about the plans, again taking leaflets to each and every house hold. We had over 200 people turn up on the night. First we explained what tetra was and how it worked. Then someone else went though the health issues connected to masts. Then on to the planning application it's self, focusing on the mistakes Airwaves had made and lack of consultation. That night we again asked everyone to write objections. I also helped out people who didn't know what to write.

We got in touch with friends of the earth. They had a lot on at the time, but helped by writing objections. The mast was very close to a SSSI.

We held a protest in our town centre, outside the O2 shop (on the day the new iphone 3G went on sale). Our MP turned up and about 50 residents, with banners, handing out leaflets about Tetra. Local press were there and we made the front page, with a great picture.

The final step was to get as many people as possible to attend the planning meeting. We had over a hundred residents, again with banners etc. The local radio station came along and did an interview.

We had a speaker for our 3 minute speech at the meeting. He didn't raise any health issues as this is not a consideration for the planning committee. He just spoke about the mistakes in the application and mainly pointed out that there was an existing site that gave better coverage and wasn't near any homes. The vote to refuse the mast was unanimous.

This is just part of this campaign, other members of the group dealt with the planning application, going through it and noting any weak points and mistakes. Other members of the group were constantly on the phone to anyone who could help. It was more than a full time job, it really takes over your life and i can't imagine how i would feel right now if the application and gone though.

Eleanor Howells

If you want to read about the start of the Bicton story it is here:


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