9
Apr
2005

PHONE PROTEST IN MPS' HANDS

by DAVID MACAULAY

12:00 - 08 April 2005

A leading MP has praised an Express & Echo campaign as he received a petition against a phone mast planned for the heart of a residential part of Exeter. Plans by Vodafone for the transmitter in Heavitree Road prompted over 700 city residents to sign the petition, which was set up by the Echo.

The antenna would be near several schools and a nursery, and directly outside the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital's maternity unit.

The Echo is campaigning to find a more suitable site and to address health fears over mast emissions.

Richard Spring, the vice-chairman of the All-Party Group on Mobile Communications, has praised the campaign.

He was behind a Private Members' Bill to bring in new controls on masts.

The West Suffolk MP will pass the petition to the five other committee members. He said it was time the Government gave more control on phone mast bids to local communities and councils.

"This is a matter of people power," he said. "The Government will have to listen to what people are saying.

"I absolutely applaud the Echo for what it is doing because there are more and more of these campaigns and anti-mast groups, and clearly in the Commons now there is very real concern."

Mr Spring's Bill would have allowed councils to consider the health implications of mobile phone masts before passing applications, while making all masts subject to planning control.

At present those under 15 metres high do not require permission.

But the Bill ran out of Parliamentary time last year.

A copy of the petition was last month presented to officials at Vodafone's head office.

The firm insists the Heavitree site is the only one suitable for the mast.

It says that all emissions from its mobile phone masts fall within strict Government guidelines
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