11
Apr
2005

Mother's fury at illegal mast

Hampshire Chronicle

AN Alresford mother is horrified that an illegal phone mast has been sited in the middle of the town without planning permission.

Rebecca Shepherd (41) had only been a week in home in Nursery Road, where she moved last November, when she spotted the dish on top of the telephone exchange in Station Road.

Mrs Shepherd says she alerted Winchester City Council, who admitted it had been erected illegally, but the authority merely asked for it to be given retrospective planning permission.

Now, she says, the prospect of having the mast near her home is making her want to sell up as quickly as possible. "I was horrified. At first, I thought it was just a spotlight, but then I realised it was a mobile phone mast. I'm going to do up my house as quickly as possible and move."

The dish is used to connect calls from landline telephones to mobiles and vice versa without the need for cables.

Mrs Shepherd, who has two children, Dominic (14) and Jacob (6), said the beam would fall upon several hundred homes across the town. "Microwaves being aimed over residential houses is not a good thing.

"While there is no firm evidence that they can cause damage, there is lots of anecdotal evidence and there's enough middle ground to say they shouldn't be sited near people," she said.

Omega: there is firm evidence that microwaves cause damage and serious illnesses see "Cancer Clusters in Vicinity to Cell-Phone Transmitter Stations" under: //omega.twoday.net/stories/580224/

She said she feared for her children: "Having researched the effects of masts, I know the possible consequences. It may not be serious illnesses, but other things may happen, like migraines or depression."

After telling planners of the mast in December, Mrs Shepherd said the council did not take action to it and asked the owners of the dish, BT, to submit a planning application. BT submitted an application on March 18th, and a decision is due by the middle of May.

"The process is flawed. Local communities are not being given the opportunity to have a voice. These things are going up and there's simply no protection," she said.

Jason Mann, a spokesman for BT, said the dish complied with all relevant regulations regarding emissions and was erected in November, 2003.

He said the company did not realise that because the dish was located within a conservation area, it required planning permission.

A Winchester City Council spokesman said the enforcement team had examined the rooftop dish and confirmed that it had been erected without permission because of its location. However, he added: "Because of the nature of the equipment-a small dish-had it not been in a conservation area, planning permission would not have been needed."

The spokesman added: "If residents have concerns, the application will be advertised as a planning application and the residents will have a chance to comment."

Two weeks ago, protesters against well-documented plans to put an Orange mast at Byron Avenue vowed to continue their campaign in the European court.

They say the mast poses a potential threat to children who attend nearby Western Primary School and that the company should have been made, in law, to look more closely at alternative sites.
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