Mast refusal could force up tax bill

Apr 14, 2005, 10:24

Tax payers could be forced to foot a hefty bill after councillors refused to back plans to upgrade a phone mast in Kate's Hill.

Telecommunications giant T-Mobile hoped to put additional antennae on the 20m mast in Hilltop Road, near Cawney Hill reservoir.

Experts warned Dudley Council planners a refusal on health, rather than planning, grounds would be unacceptable and could trigger a costly appeal.

But after hearing Kate's Hill Primary was just 150m away from the mast councillors voted again. Now T-Mobile say they may indeed try again.

Worries over the possible health risks of living and working near masts have grown in recent years but government scientist insist their is no proven risk.

Debbie Haywood, head at Kate's Hill, said: "The school nursery is sited within a matter of metres of the proposed phone masts and, given the unknown effects on children's health and well-being, we have grave concerns about this.

"We have up to 100 children between the ages of three and four in our nursery. They regularly play outdoors and would be exposed to any possible side effects that may result from the siting of phone masts in the vicinity."

Planning committee member councillor John Donegan said he welcomed the plans, saying councillors had called in the past for phone companies to share masts instead of building new ones.

But his fellow councillors planners disagreed, with councillor Graham Debney saying: "I have to vote against it - it's too near the school. It's no good saying it's already there, you are still adding to it. We have to look after tomorrow, our children.I won't put my name on anything like this."

Councillor Margaret Wilson said the flat she lived in was sited right next to a mast, and claimed that she suffered from giddiness whenever she was at home.

She said: "I am not happy with one by me, and what I don't want for myself I don't want for other people.

Councillor Wilson claimed: "The people saying 'There are no health fears' are the ones making money out of it."

Planning officer Helen Brookes-Martin warned it was likely the operator would appeal and win, saddling the council with a heavy bill for costs.

But councillor Debney insisted : "We took a vote on it and lets go with it - personally I don't care what it costs."

A spokesman for T-Mobile said the company was 'disappointed' and would decide whether or not to appeal in the next few weeks.



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April 2005

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