Mast row heads for appeal court

A battle over plans for a 25-metre mobile phone mast near three North Yorkshire schools is heading for the Court of Appeal, the BBC has learned.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott has decided to appeal against a High Court ruling allowing the mast in Harrogate.

Although an inspector rejected plans for the mast near St Robert's, Granby High and Woodfield schools, phone firms overturned this in the High Court.

The Appeal Court will be asked to give a landmark ruling on such plans.

Government challenge

Last month, Sir Richard Tucker ruled in the High Court that the proposals - by T-Mobile, Orange and Hutchinson 3G - met current safety guidelines.

The judge said the plans did not give rise to "actual danger", even though there was a "perception of risk" amongst the public.

Sir Richard quashed a previous planning inspectorate decision, saying that current government guidelines were concerned with "actual rather than perceived health risk".

But the government is challenging this interpretation of the guidelines, giving rise to a potentially landmark ruling.

Local anger

In a statement, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: "The Secretary of State has decided to appeal the judgment in the case of T Mobile v First Secretary of State and Harrogate Borough Council.

"The judgment is inconsistent with case law authority, (and) previous judgments clearly recognise that both actual and perceived health concerns are relevant considerations."

Campaigners had feared the earlier High Court decision would allow companies to ignore health fears and erect masts on sensitive sites in the future.

This ruling provoked anger from parents, teachers, Harrogate Borough Council and the town's MP, Phil Willis, who described it as "extraordinary".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/07/07 15:48:44 GMT


Informant: Robert Riedlinger


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