Health worries delay phone mast decision

PLANNERS deferred making a decision on whether a mobile phone mast should be built just 400 metres away from a primary school. Parents of children at Bourne Abbey Primary School fear radiation from the mast could affect the health of pupils.

South Kesteven District Council's development control committee said it wanted more information before it could accept or reject the 20-metre high mast, which will have three antennae and three dishes. Planning officers had recommended the application for approval in their report to the committee.

Hutchinson 3G UK Ltd wants to build the mast at the former DW Green site, off Pinfold Road.

Parents only found out about the plans on the last day of the Spring term, while the Robert Manning Technology College, which is also near the proposed site, was not aware of the plans. Eamon Duff (48), of Gladstone Street, Bourne, has a five-year-old daughter, Niamh, at the school. He said: "I don't think mobile phone masts should ever be put near a school. "There are plenty of other places they could go."

Susie Norris (39), of Stanley Street, Bourne, whose seven-year-old son Kyle attends the school, said she was extremely concerned by the health issues surrounding the masts. She said: "I don't want anything like this near our schools. It should be placed out in the middle of the Fens."

Mast Sanity, a campaign group for the sensible positioning of phone masts, says a mast should be at least 600m from a school and has urged all those concerned to lobby their councillors. Co-ordinator Lynne Edwards said: "Radiation is emitted in several directions. In addition to the main beam, which has the most powerful level of radiation, the masts give off several side beams."

Radiation has been shown to increase the risk of children developing cancer, leukaemia and growths in later life and councillors were faced with a number of objections from parents when they considered the application.

Bourne Town Council also expressed its concern about the mast's close proximity to the school field, as did a resident of Arnhem Way. The application has been made because of public demand for phone coverage for the eastern side of Bourne and the A151.

Verity Stanford, of 3 Mobile, said a base station was needed in the area for that demand to be met and reassured concerned parents and residents. She said: "Radio waves only travel short distances, so we need base stations close to where people want coverage. "The industrial unit is the best location for this area. "It will be to the west of the main industrial site, within a large concrete parking area and away from any sensitive land use."

The mast would be 200m from the nearest homes and be partially screened by a number of 10m high cyprus trees, which line Pinfold Road.

The committee will look at the matter again at its May meeting.

20 April 2005



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