We won't give up fight over mast

02 March 2005 11:27

Campaigners have refused to give up the fight against a controversial mobile phone mast and will appeal against a decision to get it switched back on.

Telecommunications company O2 has been involved in a long-running battle with campaigners over the siting of a mast on top of the police station in Yarmouth Road, North Walsham.

Last month the Evening News reported how senior politicians at North Norfolk District Council said they would have to back down on plans to take the long running North Walsham issue to the High Court, partly because of the substantial cost.

But Matthew Pennington, a member of the Campaign Against Tetra Siting (CATS) who lives on the same road as the mast, said the campaigners themselves would now be taking up the fight.

"We have now appealed the planning inspector's decision against the North Walsham mast," said Mr Pennington, who lives with his wife Rachel Kirk and three-year-old son Henry.

"We're trying for legal aid. We will be asking the planning inspector to reconsider their decision in light of the fact that health effects were not fully taken into account.

"It will be my son Henry who is appealing specifically but then any health effects with people in the region will get added to the case if we get that far."

A London barrister told council leaders that chances of success were slim and a loss in court could lay the council open to substantial costs.

But the campaigners have found an environmental solicitor in Cambridge who is willing to take their case.

"He's had advice from barristers that we've got a case that's worth pursuing," said Mr Pennington. "The solicitor is very respected and has a reasonable expertise in these matters."

The campaigner said he would like to hear from anyone else who might have experienced health effects as they just had a couple of weeks to gather evidence.

"I would feel bad if I didn't at least try," said Mr Pennington, who told the Evening News in January that he might have to move for the safety of his young son.

The Evening News has campaigned against the installation of mobile phone masts near homes and schools until it is proved they are safe.

Families believe the Tetra mast, installed as part of the emergency services Airwave communications system, has caused health problems for people living in the area.

Concerns led the council to refuse planning permission for the original mast and subsequently serve two notices on the slightly altered mast that O2 claimed did not need planning permission.

The notices led to the mast being switched off. The drawn-out row eventually saw a planning inspector allow the mast to be switched back on just a few weeks ago.

A spokeswoman for O2 Airwave said: "The planning inspector has been clear in his decision about the siting of the mast on North Walsham police station.

"The site now gives effective coverage for Norfolk police in the area."

The spokeswoman said she respected the public's right to seek a judicial review, but added it was disappointing that people were being made fearful of the move to the new communication system through "misinformation and rumour".

"It's been delivered to 48 of 51 geographical police forces in the country," she added.

From Mast Network


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