17
Jun
2005

Phone mast approved despite objections

Date Published: Thursday 16 June 2005

Marlborough Gazette and Herald

A controversial plan to erect a mobile phone mast within 170 metres of Great Bedwyn Primary School has been approved despite concerns about the children's health.

Vodafone's telecommunications base station at Wansdyke Crossing in Little Bedwyn will be the fourth mast within 400 metres of the school.

The regulatory committee of Kennet District Council approved the application by seven votes to five after hearing that a recent Appeal Court decision meant that the telecom giants would almost certainly win any appeal against refusal.

Gordon Stone, chairman of Great Bedwyn parish council, told the meeting last Thursday that there was grave concern because the site was so close to the school and there were already three masts within 400 metres.

He said that a report into the health dangers of mobile phone masts by a committee led by Sir William Stewart had recommended that masts should not be erected within 400m of schools.

Coun Rosemary Cummins, the member for Bedwyn, not only stressed the health dangers, but was also incredulous that Vodafone was planning to erect the mast so close to the Wansdyke.

She said the mast was likely to damage a national historic monument and that Vodafone had "completely disregarded the historic importance of the site."

Mike Wilmott, Kennet's chief planning officer, said that the mast was not going to be placed on the Wansdyke itself but close to it.

He also said that, if the applicants were able to prove that the mast's emissions were within safety guidelines, the council would be laughed out of court at any appeal.

Committee chairman Coun John Booth said that he would be more sympathetic to the protesters if children were banned from having mobiles, which had far higher emissions than masts .

The council's legal officer Mike Rowan said that a recent Appeal Court decision had found in favour of masts and the council would lose with substantial costs in the event of an appeal.
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