17
Jun
2005

School mobilises against mast plan

EDITORIAL - herts.advertiser@archant.co.uk

16 June 2005

A LARGE mobile phone base station could be built within 30 metres of a primary school playing field.

Parents, governors and staff at St Dominic's School in Harpenden are united in their opposition to the proposed building of the base station on Network Rail land near their playing field.

Ironically the land was once used as a playing field by the school which leased it from the-then Railtrack and eventually reached agreement with the company to return it to them for use as a car park.

St Dominic's head, Andrew Rafferty, confirmed that after researching the proposal, they had discovered that the 20-metre mast would be just 30 metres away from the school's playing field.

He said: "The PTA has met, the governors have met and the parents are very anxious and concerned about this. They want this proposed mast stopped. We feel that while technology moves on, the risks associated with this kind of technology are just too great to put it near a school."

Mr Rafferty said he understood that the applicants, Hutchison 3G, had made approaches to put the base station at a number of other sites but they were refused.

The school would now be approaching Network Rail to ask them to refuse permission. Mr Rafferty added: "We don't want this mast near the school. We are not politicians but there must be other sites not near schools and there must be other ways of achieving a mast in Harpenden."

Cllr Julian Daly, who incorporates St Dominic's in his district council Harpenden West ward, said Hutchison 3G were currently in the pre-consultation stage and would probably go ahead to planning around the end of July.

He maintained situating the base station where it was proposed was contrary to the findings of the Stewart Report which recommends they should not be near schools. Cllr Daly added: "I don't think it should be there because of the proximity to the school. I appreciate the difficulties because we all have mobile phones but the scientific evidence is ambivalent and I go along with the findings of the Stewart Report."

A spokesman for Hutchison 3G said no decision had yet been taken about pushing ahead to the planning stage. While the base station was close to a school, the site was classed as industrial by the district council because it was at a railway station which meant they might take a more favourable view of it.

The company had carried out a thorough search for alternative sites and had a couple of other options which were less favourable and not so far advanced.
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