MP joins outcry at O2 over phone mast bid

Harlow Star 16.06.05

HARLOW MP Bill Rammell has censured mobile phone companies for failing to give people living near potential mast sites enough time to make their views heard.

Mr Rammell said he was appalled by the circumstances surrounding the recent application by O2 to erect a 12.5m (41ft) mast in the grounds of the Territorial Army base in Old Harlow.

The application was thrown out by council officers last month on the grounds it would cause significant harm to the comfort of residents and was contrary to the Local Plan.

People living in Bury Road, St John's Road and Old Road have since lobbied Mr Rammell, complaining that neither they nor users of the TA centre and nearby Harlowbury Primary School were properly informed of the application.

At the time a Harlow Council spokeswoman said letters had been sent to Old Road and St John's Road residents and some in Bury Road had also been consulted.

But this week Bury Road resident Kylie Jones said: "The lack of any consultation by O2 in this matter contradicts policies they themselves have published on their website.

"We trust O2 will now find a suitable site away from residential areas and schools and not appeal against this common sense decision."

Mr Rammell said the firm had breached a code of practice agreed by all mobile phone companies which includes a promise to significantly improve consultation.

He has written to the company's chief executive Peter Erskine demanding an explanation.

"I am appalled at the way in which the company, having signed up to the code several years ago, have disregarded it," he said.

"I am also concerned that the mobile phone operators generally are not abiding by the sprit of the code of practice here in Harlow."

Phone masts have courted controversy in recent years due to fears their emissions pose significant health risks.

Last year O2 was granted permission to erect three 16m-high masts and a base station at the Latton Bush Centre, in Southern Way, despite protests from local residents.


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