Kent and Sussex Courier

15:00 - 27 May 2005
The Owner of a small goat dairy farm in Nutley has spoken of his relief after plans to build a mobile phone mast metres from his kidding shed were withdrawn.

Brian Willcock, 74, of Humphreys Farm, said he would have been forced to get rid of his goats if plans to site the mast got approval.

But weeks after submitting plans for the site off the A22, telecommunications giants Vodafone and Orange have unexpectedly withdrawn their application.

Steve Arnold of Crown Castle UK said: "Orange and Vodafone are now not wanting to proceed with the project on that site. So we will be withdrawing the application."

A Vodaphone spokeswoman said: "We withdrew [the plan] because of a financial reprioritisation. It may not be a permanent withdrawl, it may be transferred to a future financial year."

Mr Willcock said: "I'm very relieved indeed, and most grateful to Crown Castle for withdrawing their application. I think it is a morally correct decision."

The former pilot - who looks after the farm with his wife Margaret - was convinced that emissions from the proposed structure would have proven harmful to his herd and said that research into the effects of electromagnetic waves on animals confirmed his fears.

His concerns followed an application to Wealden District Council earlier this month by telecommunication sites manager Crown Castle UK for a new lattice mast to be built at the Nutley Telephone Exchange.

The proposed structure would have stood at 17.5m with a 3.2m slimline rocket extension to support Vodafone and Orange antennae.

If given approval, it would have been only 8m from a kidding shed at the farm and 21m from a milking parlour.

Mr Willcock said he feared the effect that the mast would have had on his goats and pointed towards a recent study in which cattle exposed to electromagnetic fields experienced lower milk yields and increased occurrence of poor health and behavioural abnormalities.

The German experts behind the investigation found that when removed from a nearby transmitting antenna the cows recovered, only for symptoms to reoccur when they were returned to the original field.

Mr Willcock - a mobile phone user himself - has now called on network operators to position masts away from people and livestock.

He said: "We don't mind masts, but what we do not want is masts that are close to houses.

"All we are asking is for the masts to be 400m away."

Over the last eight years, repeated bids to station a mast on land next to his farm have been made. During one previous application, Mr Willcock collected 600 names on a petition objecting to the mast.


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