FURIOUS families are protesting against plans to site a second mobile phone mast near their homes.

More than 100 people in the York Avenue and Dene Terrace areas of Jarrow have signed a petition objecting to the controversial proposal.

They were still reeling from being told mobile phone company Orange has been given permission to put up a mast when they heard rival firm Vodafone is planning another. Now the residents have redoubled their efforts to stop the second mast going ahead.

"I'm really disappointed with the whole situation," said Michael Fay, of Dene Terrace. "People living around here really are horrified. "These things are an eyesore and it makes me angry that the decision has been made by the Secretary of State, who has no interest in the area and has probably never even visited it. "We have received lots of support not only from local residents, but also from people who use the area every day and who are totally opposed to plans to put up another mast."

Neighbour Mary Harrison, 71, added: "I think it's appalling. They only put one up a couple of weeks ago, and now there's going to be another one. "Not only are they unsightly, but it's also suspected they can cause damage to people's health. It's disgusting this is happening again."

South Tyneside Council confirmed the reason that two masts are to be sited so close together is because both Orange and Vodafone want to serve the surrounding area. "The preference is to put masts in industrial areas," said a spokesman. "However, because of the location of industrial areas, they're not always certain to get coverage. "Therefore mobile phone companies often need to put their masts in non-industrial or residential areas, where they use slimmer masts.

"The council has to make a judgement on the siting and appearance of mobile phone masts, and consider the visual impact on surrounding areas. "In terms of health concerns, Government guidance states that if a proposed mast meets the international health safety guidelines, local authorities in processing applications should not consider the health effects further." Current laws state that planning officials cannot block applications on the grounds of health and safety alone.

National campaign group Mast Sanity gave advice to those protesting to object plans as soon as possible. It also urged nearby schools and nurseries to get involved, which can lend more weight to an argument.

People can contact Mast Sanity by calling (08704) 322 377 between 1pm and 8pm from Tuesday to Friday. You can also log on to the website http://www.mastsanity.org


08 April 2005

South Tyneside (Shields Gazette)


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