Fears over campaign to get mast removed

01 June 2005 12:04

Norwich Evening News

Phone mast campaigners fear their campaign to get a controversial phone mast removed is faltering.

Families living in the shadow of the O2 Airwave mast on top of North Walsham police station have been invited to a private meeting in the town to gauge the level of support for continuing their High Court battle.

Matthew Pennington, a member of the Campaign Against Tetra Siting (CATS), said: "I fear we're on a hiding to nothing at the moment. I can't see how we're going to be successful at the moment — that's what we've got to debate about.

"Hopefully we will get together most of the people who are opposing the mast.

"My only big concern is that no masts are being refused anywhere in the country at the moment."

Mr Pennington, 42, who lives with his wife Rachel Kirk and son Henry, three, said they hoped to find out more news from a barrister about the strength of their case before today's meeting took place.

He added: "I would wish to find out from the community whether they are prepared to back this or not and how much money they might be willing to put forward.

"If we get the barrister's opinion then we will know if we have a legal case worth trying to pursue."

Even if the campaigners were told they did have a case, Mr Pennington said the problem would be in trying to establish how much of a case they had.

"It might be very hard to get some idea of what sort of likelihood they would give us of being successful," he said.

"One of the problems is if we don't get Legal Aid we also get stuck with the costs from the other side."

In March, the Evening News reported how campaigners planned to take their battle against the mast, which will serve the emergency services, to the High Court.

The news came just a month after members of North Norfolk District Council said they would have to back down on plans to take court action partly due to the high cost.

A London barrister told council leaders chances of success were slim and a loss in court could lay the council open to substantial costs.

But the campaigners have found an environmental solicitor in Cambridge who is willing to take their case.

Phone company O2 has been involved in a long-running battle with campaigners over the siting of the mast on Yarmouth Road .

Last year North Norfolk district councillors refused planning permission and ordered O2 Airwave to stop using the equipment because of a feared risk to public health and a breach of planning control.

But the planning inspectorate allowed an O2 appeal in January, which enabled the mast to be switched back on, saying the council did not provide compelling reasons for withholding planning permission.

· Are you battling plans to site a phone mast in your neighbourhood? Call Peter Walsh at the Evening News on (01603) 772439 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk


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