8
Jun
2005

OUTRAGE AS PHONE MAST WORK BEGINS

Burton Mail

by KIM BRISCOE

RESIDENTS have spoken of their outrage after work to erect a mobile phone mast started yesterday – despite assurances the project was on hold.

A crowd of angry villagers gathered in Hillfield Lane after contractors began to lay the foundations for a controversial 15–metre telcommunications mast being erected by mobile phone giants O2.

East Staffordshire Borough Council approved a planning application for the mast in January, despite more than 50 objections from residents concerned about the possible health implications.

However, at the time O2 agreed to meet with residents, councillors and officers to discuss the possibility of finding an alternative site.

During the subsequent meeting the firm made more assurances that it would look for an alternative site and notify the council if any work was to begin — notification which was not received ahead of contractors starting to lay the base for the mast yesterday.

Stretton councillor Ron Clarke accused O2 of going back on its promises and vowed to do all he could to put a stop to the mast’s erection.

Council officials have also written to the firm, asking for the work to be halted.

Councillor Clarke said: "I’m just disgusted. It’s an issue that could have been resolved and avoided. Residents can be assured that I am doing everything I can to get this work stopped."

Bisbell Magnetic Products Ltd, which had originally turned down O2’s approach to site the mast at its Hillfield Lane premises, subsequently offered to allow the monopole to be built behind its factory — providing an alternative site preferred by the majority of nearby residents.

However, residents feel this option, which would have required O2 to pay rent to Bisbell, has been dismissed in favour of the original site, which appears to be owned by no–one.

Derek Ford, who lives metres from the proposed site and has been suffering from cancer for 10 years, said: "My body is now more susceptible to any other form of cancer and the phone mast is of great concern to us in view of its proximity. The National Radiological Protection Board recognises levels of radiation emissions should be lower for people with compromised health, thereby admitting the level of radiation is dangerous for someone with my condition."

A spokesman for O2 said today that the work had started because it had changed agents to deal with the erection of the mast, and the old agents had not made the new firm aware of the on–going issues."
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