Perceived health risks IS okay by government! Let's quote this!


Published on Friday, May 20th 2005

The Hexham


OBJECTORS have won their fight to prevent a mobile phone mast being erected on top of a Hexham nightclub.

Tynedale Council’s development control committee unanimously turned down the application by communications firm 3.

“We are delighted that the councillors saw common sense,” said Phil Roe, spokesman for protest group 3G Concern, which marshalled protests to the scheme.

The plan for an eight metre high mast on top of Dontino’s nightspot attracted four protest petitions, with a total of 541 signatures, as well as 35 individual letters of objection.

Hexham Town Council also objected to the scheme.

However, the council’s chief planning officer, Helen Winter, recommended approval, saying the proposal complied fully with national guidelines on masts.

The decision to refuse the application followed an inspection by the committee’s site investigation working group, after the application had been adjourned at an earlier meeting.

Coun. Mrs Anne Dale, of Stocksfield, said the inspection had revealed the mast would have a significant impact in the conservation area.

She said: “It will be double the height of Dontino’s, and if we allowed something like this right in the middle of Hexham, we will be going downhill.”

Coun. Ross Adamson, also of Stocksfield, added: “It would be very prominent when viewed from the north, and there is also the radiation to take into account. It should be turned down.”

Coun. Paul MacDonald, of Ovingham, added: “As well as the height problem, there is the perceived health risk, which the Government has said is enough to justify refusal.

“Having something like this in the centre of Hexham is one step too far.”

Coun. Dave Shaw, of Prudhoe argued that no telecommunications masts should be permitted in towns; all should be in the middle of farmers’ fields, away from centres of population.

Ward councillor Matty Donnelly congratulated the members of the site investigation group on their common sense.

He said: “Large numbers of people have stopped me in Hexham to tell me they are very concerned about the location of this mast.

“It’s within a very short distance of a nursery and a middle school, and people are worried.”

Coun. Mitch Mitchell, of Haydon Bridge, pointed out that it was still not known what the dangers of radiation from masts were, but it was clear they should not be allowed near schools and nurseries.

“To allow that is criminal,” he said.

Coun. Derek Kennedy, of Hexham, said: “To have this in the centre of Hexham is just not acceptable.

“Even if there is no health risk, people can still become ill with stress because of the public perception that there is a risk.”

Mrs Winter pointed out that it would be difficult to sustain a refusal on visual impact grounds on appeal, as the mast was only the equivalent of a flagpole.

“I don’t think there is flagpole this big on top of Buckingham Palace,” retorted Coun. MacDonald.

Coun. Michael Walton, of Greenhaugh, noted that the applicants had considered and rejected numerous alternative sites in Hexham, and suggested they try the huge poles which have recently appeared at Hexham Golf Club to hold netting to catch stray golf balls.

When the matter was put to the vote, there was not a single vote in favour of the scheme.


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