17
Jun
2005

Fury over mast plan near school

Epping Forest Guardian 17.06.05

By Owen Morris

A PROPOSAL to build a 20ft tall mobile phone mast just metres from a primary school has prompted outcry from parents and teachers.

Mobile phone company 3 is consulting on plans to construct the tower and base station on the west side of Harpenden Train Station's car park just a short distance from St Dominic's School and its 250 pupils.

3 has already asked Sir John Lawes School , Elliswick Lawn Tennis Club, Harpenden Hospital , and a number of other addresses in the town if they would be willing to house the mast but each has refused.

St Dominic's headteacher Mr Andrew Rafferty said: "Parents, governors and myself are truly concerned about this.

"The phone company are saying the mast will be 100 metres from the school, but it will only be 30 metres from our playing fields.

"Even if there is a slight fear of health risks to children companies should not be able to take risks by erecting masts near schools until the argument has been proved one way or another.

"We are going to aim to do everything we can to stop this going through."

The 2000 Stewart Report recommended that mobile phone masts should not be placed anywhere near schools, hospitals or residential areas.

Although the report also stressed that while some studies concluded radiation from the masts could be harmful there was no conclusive evidence.

St Albans district councillor Julian Daly has three children at St Dominic's and is also ward councillor for Harpenden West.

He said: "The Stewart report indicated that companies should be cautious about placing phone masts anywhere near schools and yet this application is still being considered by three.

"Understandably many people are worried because we do not know what the implications might be."

Ironically, the land the mast is to be built on used to belong to the school, but was bought by Network Rail to build the car park.

A spokesman for Network Rail who must agree before the mast can be built said: "Our only role is to ensure that equipment on our sites do not interfere with the running of the railway.

"Planning decisions are the responsibility of the local authority."

A spokesman for 3 said there is no specific legislation preventing a mast being put near schools and the company is fully consulting with interested parties before an application would be submitted.
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