Kent and Sussex Courier

15:00 - 30 December 2005

By Euan Youdale

THE FESTIVE season has been ruined for Wadhurst residents who claim plans for an "ugly" mobile phone mast were deliberately sneaked through the back door over Christmas.

Outraged villagers started a massive leafleting campaign and turned out in their droves on a bitter Wednesday morning this week to demonstrate against the 33ft O2 mast, which would be sited at Durgate's former Chrome Tech building.

They claimed it would be a dangerous eyesore.

Dismayed mother-of-two, Anna Godden, canvassed more than 100 homeowners in her effort to reverse the plans, which she said could drive her family out of the village.

The 35-year-old argued that the mast might have a devastating affect on health, especially as there are three schools within 400 metres of the site.

The period during which residents could complain about the mast originally finished yesterday, in the middle of the festive period.

Residents blamed O2 for choosing this time of year to apply when many people were on holiday or busy with Christmas plans.

Mrs Godden said: "It is outrageous and extremely worrying, we have not had time to put the issues forward. It has ruined our Christmas."

Since the demonstration this week, Wealden District Council decided to extend the consultation period until Wednesday.

A district council spokeswoman said: "We recognise these types of applications can be sensitive."

But residents also blasted a letter from the district council sent out earlier this month to inform villagers about the plans, claiming many people had been confused by its contents.

The letter, dated December 6, said a flagpole could be erected at the site and later added that there would be three 2G antennas placed inside it - but the words mobile phone mast were never used.

Mrs Godden: "Most people just thought a flagpole would be nice because there would be a flag flying when you came into the village, it was completely misleading.

"The mast will look awful in Wadhurst, which is a beautiful village and Durgates is a very historic part of the village.

"It's all quite sad and very personal as it will probably mean that we will move. I am not going to bring my children up in the shadow of one of these things."

Mayfield Road resident Sara Rice, 35, also hit the campaign trail following O2's application.

The mother-of-two said: "This application at Christmas, when people are extremely preoccupied, seems to be a deliberate ploy to sneak it through.

"As usual this smacks of everyone wanting to make money over the consideration of the local community. It would be a total eyesore."

Mrs Rice added that apart from the three schools, the area was densely populated.

Although there is no proof that mobile masts cause ill health,

Omega this is not true. See under:

the government commissioned Stewart Report in 2000 recommended that district councils took a precautionary approach when siting masts close to children, because youngsters absorb proportionally more radiation than adults.

Mrs Rice added: "I fear for this community. People have got to make a stand and think about children's health."

But one fellow resident Charles Coyne, 68, said: "Not all the people are opposed to the mast. Wadhurst has a number of areas of very bad reception. If people have mobiles then they need the masts to support them."

O2 spokesman James Stevenson said the firm had already received 30 responses from residents during the consultation period, which he said proved that there had been plenty of time to respond.

He added: "It was the district council's own timing when it came to the consultation period and we cannot see any problem with the way the application has been handled."


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Dezember 2005

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