Protesters' fury at mast ruling

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a 21ft high mobile phone mast on top of a 22ft high building just feet from back gardens in Harrogate has been given the go-ahead by an independent government inspector.
The decision has been met by anger from residents who had campaigned against the mast at the former Harrogate Leisure Centre on Beech Avenue.

Spokesman for the Oatlands Anti-Mast Group Brian Hulme said: “This decision means back gardens all over the place are at risk from these masts, even when they are almost within touching distance.”

Mr Hulme thanked local residents for the support they had given in objecting to the appeal.

Inspector Jonathan King made his decision to overrule Harrogate Borough Council planners after viewing the site from windows and gardens of Mount Gardens and Halstead Road in the Oatlands area.

His decision means that the O2 (UK) Ltd mobile phone company can now put up the mast.

Pannal ward councillor Fred Willis, who tabled objections to the plan and joined residents on a site visit with the inspector, said the decision was a tremendous blow for people living in the area, but particularly those whose gardens would be overshadowed by the structure.

He said: “It is no comfort to residents that the decision was by a narrow margin. This is another case in Harrogate where local decision making – with input from local residents and councillors – has been overruled."

Mr King said in his judgement a clear benefit of the mast would be removal of three antenna which would remove some of the clutter. This would include two antenna close to houses in Mount Gardens and Halstead Road.

“By a narrow margin, and having regard to the policies of the local plan, I consider that the limited harm from the erection of the taller pole would be outweighed by wider benefits,” added the inspector.

Meanwhile Mr King said that fears for health was not a sufficient reason to reject the new mast, nor was potential interference with television and radio reception.

He said a suggested alternative site had been Hornbeam Business Park but had been told this would not meet technical requirements and he understood it had been discounted.

He agreed it was not an attractive outlook for residents, with the least appealing aspect the clutter of antenna.

Mr King said the plans described the mast as a flagpole.

“But it would not, in my view, appear as such, being rather thicker than a normal flagpole of this height,” he said.

18 November 2005



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November 2005

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