16/06/2005 Walton news and Mail


PLANS to install a phone mast near to homes have sparked a protest from dozens of families concerned about the health risk to their children.

Telecommunications company Vodafone sent Elmbridge Council details of their intention to erect a 12-metre mast on land by Somerset Close in Hersham, near two blocks of flats and several houses.

The site is just yards away from the spot where T-Mobile wanted to erect a 10-metre mast on the roundabout at Queens Road in Hersham. That application was not approved but T-mobile has lodged an appeal against the council’s decision.

Because of the planning laws surrounding mobile phone masts, applications cannot be rejected on the basis of health concerns. The council has already received 50 letters of objection about the Vodafone mast.

Mum Tara Howland told the News & Mail: “Nobody I have spoken to wants it and we are all concerned about the health risks although they aren’t something the council can take into consideration.”

Masts less than 15 metres tall do not need full planning permission. Mobile phone operators only need to give the council prior notification. If the council objects within eight weeks, permission is refused, but the authority can only do this on the grounds of the mast’s location and appearance.

“Residents are completely outraged,” said Tara. “Vodafone haven’t considered other sites away from people’s homes and they haven’t considered mast sharing.

“We were surprised to have a minimum of 21 days to object. They just put a notice up on the post a couple of months ago saying they were considering putting in an application, but nobody has been contacted since. It was the council that contacted me once the application was sent in.

“There are lots and lots of families in this area,” she said. “The residents and the whole community just do not want these masts in and around our village. If the Government is advising that masts should not be put up near schools, why put one near to where my daughter will be sleeping 10 to 12 hours a night?”

A Vodafone spokeswoman said the proposal was designed to improve their network signal in the area.

“In order for people to use mobile phones – and lots of us do – there has to be nearby base stations,” she said. “They have to be near because they are very low-powered.

“The guidelines to which we comply are there to protect all of us, 24 hours a day, whether you live nearby or not. Proximity to residences is not the issue.

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“It is always regrettable if people feel they have not been consulted when they should be. We do work very hard to try and ensure we consult people, at the very least at ward councillor level.

“We are always happy to address any concern at any stage in the process. As soon as the application goes in, there is an opportunity, as the residents have taken, to make their views known.

“We have a requirement in a specific area and moving outside that area would not work for us technically.

“We always consider every option. It is only after taking into account all the various elements that we come up with an option that we put forward as a planning application.”

Details of the application, number 2005/1172, can be seen at the planning department of the Civic Centre on Esher High Street.


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Juni 2005

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