3
Jun
2005

O2 Must Look For New Site

by John Sorrie - john.sorrie@inverurieherald.com

AN application for the siting of a mobile phone mast at Burghmuir Place, Inverurie by O2 (UK) Ltd was refused by Garioch Councillors at their meeting on Tuesday (May 31).

The application was previously before the Garioch Area Committee on Tuesday, April 19 but a decision was deferred to allow discussion to take place between planners and the applicant to look at an alternative site away from residential areas.

Ten further sites were considered and planners expressed a preference for one of these sites. However, O2 assessed the options and found that none were suitable.

The application submitted was to provide O2 3G mobile phone coverage in the northern part of Inverurie. The proposed mast would have been 17.5 metres high — approximately 52.5 feet — with six antennas and two transmission dishes. Two equipment cabins would have been within the mast site.

A number of objections from members of the public were received mainly focusing on the possible health issues related to mobile phone masts. Many objectors felt that the mast site was too close to residential areas and was also close to a public park. It was also suggested that there are many wide open spaces in the area where the mast could be situated. The proposal also met with opposition from Inverurie Community Council.

In a letter to the committee, one Nether Blackhall resident said: “According to European Legislation of March 10 1999 ‘People should be protected from potentially harmful long term effects of electromagnetic fields generated by these transmitters’.”
Provost Raymond Bisset commented: “This is a very difficult situation — would we, for example, be happy to have a mast on top of Gordon House? It would probably be a very suitable location. I think we need to look to see if there are other masts in the area and if we can combine them in one location.”

On the issue of public health, Newmachar and Fintray councillor Martin Ford commented that the matter before the committee was a planning one and that it was not up to the committee to debate public health.

He referred to the report before the committee which said: “The Scottish Executive has concluded that it is not necessary for planning authorities to treat radio frequency emissions as a material consideration in dealing with planning applications for radio masts.
“National Planning Policy Guidelines emphasise there is no need for planning authorities to consider power outputs [of radio transmitters] in determining planning applications, since it is clearly the responsibility of the Scottish Executive and the UK government to decide on what measures are required to protect public health from potential radiation hazards.”

Inverurie North councillor Michael Raeburn added: “It is my choice to carry a mobile phone. If we allow the mast in this site we have given local residents no choice.”

The application was recommended for approval by planners but the committee went to the vote. The decision was taken to refuse the application on the basis that other alternative sites exist.
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