Tory adds voice to campaign for mast law


09 April 2005 13:57

Concerns about mobile phone masts and how close they are to homes and schools has emerged as a key election issue as the battle for the Norwich North seat hots up.

Dr Ian Gibson, who is seeking re-election as the Norwich North MP, has been an outspoken supporter of the Evening News's Put Masts On Hold campaign since it was launched in 2000.

But Dr Gibson, who helped bring world mast expert Sir William Stewart to the city for a debate on masts, has a pretender to his mast campaigning throne in the shape of Tory Parliamentary candidate James Tumbridge.

"Because people are concerned about where masts go, we're going to request that all masts require planning permission and that means we all have a say about where masts go," said Mr Tumbridge.

The Tories' five-point plan also states that local authorities should be able to take health concerns into account and requires phone operators to show the development does not result in "unacceptable damage to visual amenity" or harm environmentally sensitive areas.

Under Conservative policy, councils would also be required to draw up their own supplementary planning guidance to ensure consistency as part of the policy, which also calls for a single process for deciding masts.

"As a patent lawyer, I have spent a great deal of time looking at mobile telecommunication technology in the past year," said Mr Tumbridge, who also pledged to look at effects of handsets on health.

"Following recent talks with Dr Richard Gitlin, a US expert in mobile phone technology, I know that handsets rather than masts are the greatest concern. I will therefore press for research into both masts and handsets if I am elected.

"The Evening News is right to keep this issue in the news — I hope the people of Norwich have the chance to know who is really offering a policy for our benefit."

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

Dr Gibson, who has helped hundreds of campaigners fight mast applications near to homes and schools, said he was unperturbed by Mr Tumbridge's Tory challenge.

"His opportunism knows no bounds, poor desperate chap," said Dr Gibson. "Jumping on the bandwagon is one thing, but working over a long period trying to change Government policy is another."

Dr Gibson said it was only now that the campaign against mobile phone masts was starting to have an effect that the "opportunistic semi-politician" had shown an interest. "My advice to him would be don't give up the day job," said Dr Gibson.

Are you fighting plans to put up a mast near your home? Call Alasdair McGregor at the Evening News on (01603) 772443 or e-mail al.mcgregor@archant.co.uk


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