MP backs anti-mast campaigners

by Saxon East

Streatham MP and Government planning minister Keith Hill has swung his political muscle behind a residents' campaign to stop a giant mobile phone mast being built next to a much-loved park.

Mr Hill has rallied behind more than 400 Streatham protesters who have signed a petition against T-Mobile's plans for the 11m mast near the entrance of Hillside Gardens in Streatham.

Streatham householders fear the mast, with dish and two antennae, would ruin the appearance of the park, and are worried it could pose a long-term health risk to young children at a nearby playclub.

However, T-Mobile has stressed the mast is safe as it complies with radiation limit guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radio Protection (ICNIRP).

Mr Hill has steered away from the controversial health arguments, and instead has written to Lambeth Council's planning department, saying: "I too oppose the placing of the mast, largely because it is in a conservation area. I have asked to be included in further correspondence on the matter."

But Nick McRae, chairman of the Friends of Hillside Gardens Park, went further by citing the Government-appointed committee recommendations of Sir William Stewart, who urged caution against mobile phone technologies.

Mr McRae said: "We should not take risks with vulnerable children, with phones and masts. That is something that the mobile phone company ought to take more notice of."

Because of residents' strong protests, it is rumoured the pre-consultation plans will move the mast further away, towards the Palace Road end of Streatham.

A council spokeswoman said the town hall had not received an official planning application, but it would follow the normal process if and when it arrived.

A T-mobile spokesman said: "We have submitted a planning application to the local planning authority and we await their decision. The site complies with all planning and ICNIRP guidelines."

12:30pm today


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Februar 2005

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