Fife Today

FRUSTRATED residents staged an impromptu protest over a mobile 'phone mast as workmen tried to put it back up.

The long-running saga at Formonthills Road took another twist on Thursday morning as engineers arrived to replace the device which had been taken away for repairs. It had been badly vandalised over a month ago and was due to go back up with security cameras attached last week.

But furious locals made their views known by attempting to stop work being carried out. They are angry at how O2 were able to gain original planning permission after what many claimed was "inadequate" consultation. And the group has vowed to continue their fight to remove it altogether. One of the protestors, Evelyn Allsopp, said local people had not been listened to throughout the affair. "We've been told that proper consultation took place and that is just not true - they are lying through their teeth," she commented. "The feeling of the residents is extremely strong and we feel let down and deceived by our so-called representatives." Local woman Wilna Roger, of nearby Cardean Way, added: "There is a potential health risk - it hasn't been proved either way. "Even if just one person is made ill by it, is that worth the risk?"

The Gazette also understands that one Cardean Way resident now spends most of her time in Edinburgh as she can't bear to live in her house, which is overshadowed by the mast. Another protestor fumed: "We think the council has failed in one of their primary duties and that is to protect the health and environment of the community."

The mast initially went up in January, 2004, angering people who felt it had been granted permission without warning. It then emerged O2 had breached planning regulations, but as the initial application had been approved, it was altered and re-sited in the correct location to agreed specifications.

After the recent vandalism, community members wrote to O2 officials offering them a chance to negotiate.

But Balgeddie and Collydean councillor Bill Kay, who is on the development committee, revealed that had fallen on deaf ears. "We were prepared to try and expedite a site for them and they point blankly refused to do anything," he said. "They didn't do any real, meaningful consultation, and I think the Scottish Executive is eventually going to have to sort this type of thing out."

The 15-metre mast was finally erected after police were called, and the protest went off peacefully.

No-one at O2 was available for comment.

18 May 2005


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