22
Feb
2005

Couple's big mast battle

Feb 21 2005

By Emma Pinch, Birmingham Post

A couple who claim they were forced out of their home because a phone mast damaged their health will take their battle to have it pulled down to court today.

Agnes Ingvarsdottir and Eirikur Petursson said they had spent an estimated £300,000 on their legal battle plus a new home and offices because of the 3G mast erected near their Worcestershire house about 18 months ago.

They said they had been plagued with headaches since it was put up and, even though they no longer own the property, they wanted the telecommunications company Hutchison to remove the mast.

They even made sure details of the mast were in the sale contract of their former home, a 200-year-old Grade II listed house near Worcester, so its new owners would not sue them on health grounds.

The case is due before Birmingham District Registry at the city's county court complex today. "We probably will lose because we no longer live next to the mast," said Agnes. "But we have continued with the court battle because we felt so strongly about it. If it makes us sick, what about everybody else?"

Agnes and Eirikur, aged 60 and 62 respectively, moved into the house in 1999 and ran their business designing and making air filtering systems from there.

The mast, which looks like a flagpole, went up on the roof of the Little Sauce Factory Pub during the first week of August 2003, two doors away from their house.

"Within a day of it going up we began to suffer the most awful headaches and nausea," said Agnes. "Our eyes were deep red and swollen in the morning."

The pair petitioned against planning permission for the mast being granted by Worcester City Council and collected 300 signatures from neighbours.

In desperation, the couple rented new business premises and last February they managed to remortgage the house to buy a dilapidated home that was standing empty in nearby Malvern.

When the couple eventually sold the property last August, it was for £50,000 less than the market value. This, they claimed, was because of the proximity of the mast. They have taken the telecommunications company that owns the mast - Hutchison 3G or 3 as the network is now known - to court under Government planning guidance for telecommunications equipment.

They said their aim was not to win compensation, but to have the mast taken down.

A spokeswoman for Hutchison 3G said the case was "unique" because it was going to court, but said she was unable to comment further because of the ongoing legal proceedings.

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