17
Jun
2005

Protestors fight phone mast plans

Lancaster Guardian 16.06.05

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to erect a mobile phone mast in Scale Hall this week handed more than 150 letters of objection to Lancaster City Council.

They will find out today, Friday, whether the council will move to prevent telecommunications giant O2 building the mast on land at the corner of West Drive and Scale Hall Lane.

The O2 application exploits a quirk in British planning law by asking for 'prior approval'. To block the plan, the council must object on the grounds that the mast represents an unwarranted visual intrusion.
The council contacted nearby residents in May to invite their comments, setting a deadline of Wednesday, June 15.

Petition

Rosemary Wilkie of West Drive, who led the campaign, said she had been delighted by the community's response.

"We've sent 159 letters and talked to a lot of people who sent in letters off their own back. I'm sure if we'd had more time we'd have got even more," she said.

A petition signed by more than 400 people has also been presented to the council.

"The petition adds weight to our argument," said Rosemary.

"But I think letters from individuals and addresses in the affected area will have more of an impact."

Rosemary said she and her neighbours, mostly virgin campaigners, were learning the ropes as they went along.

"From what we've gleaned, we have to fight this on the visual intrusion of the mast," she said. "Any potential health issues are not taken into account."

This annoys Rosemary's husband Jim.

"The real health issue is the stress and anxiety which comes from not knowing whether these masts are safe," he said.

But fellow campaigner Ken Pyne of Morecambe Road is confident the visual intrusion will be adequate to kill the plan.

"There'll be a large equipment box, a large electrical box, not to mention the mast itself, which will be half again as big as an ordinary lamp-post," he said.

"No way can that be anything but obtrusive."

The campaigners are now hopeful the council will pay heed to their concerns, said Rosemary.

A planning spokesman said: "All the observations we have received will be taken into account in reaching a recommendation and decision."

r NotoO2 campaigners who successfully scuppered plans to build masts in Slyne Road have made a film highlighting the potential health risks of emissions from mobile phones.

They intend to distribute the film – which shows campaigners measuring pulsed microwave radiation in houses near mobile phone masts – to councillors, MPs and the media.

Campaigner Adrian Hamilton said: "The idea behind the film is to convey the notion that these masts, especially those disguised as other things, are not as innocuous as they look."

16 June 2005
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