RESIDENTS have reacted angrily to plans for a mobile phone mast in the heart of their Chester community.

Phone company Vodafone wants to install a 12-metre mast and equipment box at the junction of Victoria Road with Victoria Crescent, which is next to Chester Business School.

But people living in and around the area say they are concerned about the health implications of the base station, as it is officially called, and also the impact it would have on the area, which is under a conservation order.

Vodafone staff are in a pre-consultation period with residents about the plans, but it looks certain the phone company will be receiving only objections.

John Hughes, 70, who has lived in Victoria Court for five years, said: “I am very worried about the health effects of these masts. No-one has proved they are safe, and after reading reports that children who live near pylons are more likely to get leukaemia, you do start to wonder.

“Because we have a college here, there are a lot of young people walking about. And they would have to pass that pole every day. I am very worried for their health. I cannot think of a more unsuitable place for it.”

L. G. Bennion, 71, of Victoria Crescent , said: “I have already written to Vodafone about my displeasure. If it was built I would be able to see it from my garden. It is not going to be very nice to look at.

“This is a conservation area. I find it extremely difficult to get planning permission for things I want to do on the house, so it would be very upsetting if Vodafone could put a mast up here without any trouble.”

College Ward Labour Cllr Sandra Rudd, deputy chairman of the city council’s planning board, echoed the residents’ comments. “I personally feel it’s too close to homes and would be inappropriate in a conservation area,” she said.

“I’ve asked that Vodafone look at other sites or link up with the Microconnect system which is used successfully in the city centre by BT and is designed to be shared by mobile phone operators."

But Jane Frapwell, electromagnetic field adviser for Vodafone, said: “The Microconnect system is a complimentary device. It does not replace the need for base stations. We always try to be sympathetic to the areas we plan to put our stations in. If it is an area of outstanding beauty, we try to make sure the visual impact is lessened. But people need base stations to use their mobile phones.”


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Juni 2005

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