22
Mrz
2005

“THE FIGHT GOES ON!” SAY WINCHESTER PHONE MAST CAMPAIGNERS

Press release. 22 March 2005

“THE FIGHT GOES ON!” SAY WINCHESTER PHONE MAST CAMPAIGNERS

News that the House of Lords has refused to hear the Byron Avenue phone mast case has left campaigners disappointed but not crushed. “We’ve had so many ups and downs in the four years we’ve been fighting that nothing surprises us any longer,” says Karen Barratt. “ We’re certainly not giving up.”

After the disappointment of December’s Appeal Court judgement, mothers Caroline St. Leger Davey and Diane Harrison applied in January to continue their legal battle in the Lords on behalf of their children; Phoebe St.Leger Davey and James Harrison both attend Western Primary School, which is situated close to the site of the proposed Orange mast. Caroline and Diane will now be discussing the Lords decision with their legal team.

It is too early to say whether the next step might be the European Court but Orange has given an undertaking to MP Mark Oaten not to erect the mast until campaigners have exhausted all their options. In any case the company originally said they would not disturb the birds nesting in the trees on the site, which means waiting until August. The drama of Byron Avenue looks set to continue.

CONTACTS
Karen Barratt: 01962 864388
Caroline St.Leger Davey: 01962 865716

BACKGROUND

Orange originally applied to erect the 11.79 metre monopole in Byron Avenue, Winchester in December 2000 and was given the go-ahead by a local planning officer as full planning permission for masts under 15 metres is not required.

The unprecedented level of protest among outraged residents and parents with children at the school prompted marches, public meetings and a deluge of letters to local and national government departments. Local MP Mark Oaten gave the campaign his wholehearted support and made repeated attempts to persuade Orange to find an alternative site. Eventually local parents took legal action and Winchester City Council (WCC) was forced to reconsider the decision after the High Court gave permission for a judicial review on the grounds that concerns about health had not been considered. At the re-determination in March 2002, this time by the full Planning Committee, Orange’s application was rejected.

Community celebrations were short-lived, however, as two months later Orange lodged an appeal against WCC’s decision. The public inquiry, for which local people raised £20,000 for their own legal representation, started in November 2002, lasted for nine days with three adjournments, eventually finishing in July 2003. A few weeks later, Planning Inspector, Martin Pike issued his decision against the council, in Orange’s favour.

WCC refused to challenge the decision even though costs were awarded against them. Two local mothers, Caroline St.Leger Davey and Diane Harrison took up the challenge and went to the High Court in March this year in an attempt to overturn the Planning Inspector’s decision. Although unsuccessful on that occasion they were given a second chance and returned to court on 11 November in an attempt to overturn the judgment. The decision rejecting the appeal was issued on 1 December 2004. The application to the House of Lords was made in January.

END


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