Residents win battle to stop the woodland phone mast

By Paul Robinson

CAMPAIGNERS in a picturesque Yorkshire village were celebrating today after a controversial mobile phone mast plan was thrown out by council chiefs.

Residents in Great Preston, near Kippax in Leeds, have been battling a bid by communications giant T-Mobile to put up a 25-metre-high mast in local woodland.

Now they have got the news they were hoping for - Leeds City Council has turned down the company's request for planning permission for the development.


Richard Travers, who spearheaded opposition to the proposal, said today: "We're absolutely delighted – this is a real victory for people power."

Dad-of-two Mr Travers, 44, also pledged to fight any attempt by T-Mobile to appeal against the council's decision. He said: "We're ready and waiting – we'll be keeping a very close eye on this in the future."

The mast row first made headlines last month when the Yorkshire Evening Post revealed the site off Whitehouse Lane earmarked by T-Mobile is owned by the family of Great and Little Preston Parish Council chairman Charles Hirst.

Villagers immediately demanded to know why they had not been informed about the scheme until late July, although it was in the pipeline as long ago as March.

Many parents also expressed concern at the possible impact of a mobile phone mast on their children's health, even though scientific opinion is divided over the risk the structures pose.

Mr Hirst said he had been "taken aback" by the negative reaction to the plan, and explained he had kept quiet about it so he could not be accused of trying to influence his parish colleagues.

In a document giving its reasons for rejecting the application, the city council says the mast would be "an intrusive alien element representing significant visual harm to its mature and attractive landscape setting".

A spokeswoman for T-Mobile would not be drawn on the case, other than to say the situation was currently "under review".


23 September 2005



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