Exeter and Devon try to help campaigners - More pressure for change

12:00 - 21 March 2005

703 back call for communications giant to abandon controversial mast plan in city

Here are 703 reasons why you should ditch your plan to put a mobile phone mast in Heavitree Road.

In just four weeks, 703 people have signed our petition objecting to your proposed 'third generation' mast which would be close to several schools and nurseries and almost directly outside the city's maternity unit.

Exeter City Council has already written to you asking that you seek an alternative site for this antenna. Devon County Council leaders are considering doing the same.

In Parliament, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is backing our campaign and our city MP Ben Bradshaw is also writing to ask you to reconsider.

He is also seeking a high-level meeting with Planning Minister Keith Hill in a bid to tighten up the development controls on new transmitters like yours.

Bumble Bee Nursery, Puffins Nurseries, St Margaret's School and Bramdean School have all expressed concerns on behalf of the hundreds of children in their care.

But we also believe it is time you heard from the ordinary Exonians who will have to live and work near your mast, who take their children to schools near your mast and may even give birth near your mast.

We have received support for our petition from all around the city, the county and further afield - mainly from others involved in similar transmitter battles.

And they all say 'No' to your antenna - not here, not now.

Like all your market rivals, you insist your masts are safe despite many international studies suggesting otherwise.

Many in Exeter do not believe your assurances, but even more, want the question of whether masts are dangerous finally settled before having to live and work near this one.

And many in our city are outraged that while independent research is ongoing, you are pressing ahead and putting up your masts next to schools and health units.

Whatever happened to the precautionary approach recommended in the Stewart Report? If it does not apply in Heavitree Road, then where?

Here are some of the comments the people of Exeter - and elsewhere - wrote on our petition.

Margaret Langdon, of Pamela Road, Polsloe, wrote: "This proposal is wrong. We must consider the vulnerability of the young in this area first."

Toni Holmes, of Charnley Avenue, St Thomas, wrote: "It's absurd even to consider a mast there. I do hope they realise this before more people are put at risk for financial gain."

Janet Parr, of Union Road, Exeter, wrote: "Give us proof it's 100 per cent safe!"

Andrew Buchan, of Exmouth wrote: "I have three children going to school in the immediate area. I do not want companies gambling with the health of my children. To put it next to schools, hospitals, day care units etc is an obscene dereliction of care towards those who need our protection the most."

Jennifer Cook, of Archibald Road, St Leonard's, wrote: "The installation of such a mast, with all the uncertainty that surrounds them, should never be allowed in such a location - how on earth can they be allowed to get away with it?"

Jackie Napper, of Hamlin Lane, Heavitree, wrote: "Don't play with our children's lives! What's more important?"

Perhaps now, after reading the views of the people of Exeter, you might pause to rethink your proposal. You have not yet made a planning application and we sincerely hope you choose not to do so.

Yours etc.

A total of 703 signed our petition objecting to Vodafone's plan to place a mobile phone mast in Heavitree Road.

And 307 filled in slips printed in the Echo or wrote to us, while 79 emailed objections.

Another 317 have signed petitions left at Lavis News in Magdalen Road, Costcutters in Heavitree and Bumble Bees Nursery, in Heavitree Road.

We will be presenting copies of today's edition to Vodafone, all members of Exeter City Council's development control committee and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mobile Communications.



12:00 - 21 March 2005
City MP Ben Bradshaw is backing our petition and pressing for a top-level meeting, with the goal of tightening up planning restrictions on masts.

The Labour MP is writing to Vodafone urging them to find an alternative site for their mast and also requesting a meeting with Planning Minister, Keith Hill.

Mr Bradshaw told the Echo: "In the light of the strength of local opinion, and the case made by the Echo, I will be writing to Vodafone to ask them to to reconsider the location for the mast.

"And I will also be requesting from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister permission to take a delegation from Exeter to see Keith Hill, the minister responsible for planning issues.

"I am doing this because the Echo has made a strong case for a change to the planning guidelines which currently determine mast applications."


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