16
Jul
2005

OPPOSITION GROWS TO MAST NEAR THREE SCHOOLS AND HOMES

BY KERRA MADDERN
Express and Echo Devon
12:00 - 15 July 2005

Nearly 500 people have signed a petition against the building of a phone mast near their homes. As previously reported in the Echo, Hutchinson 3G want to build the 12-metre-high mast in Whipton, on the junction of Leypark Road and Hill Barton Road.

There is widespread opposition to the development because, as well as being near thousands of homes, the mast is near three schools, a children's home and a children's centre.

In addition, the new St Luke's High School, being built beside Hill Barton Road, will be a few metres away from the mast.

Many parents living in the area are worried about having a mobile phone mast near their homes. Catherine Hill, Parent Forum co-ordinator for Sure Start, which provides services for children in the Whipton area, said: "I am opposed to the mast because it is a worry, and so are parents. I know lots have signed the petition.

"There are already quite a lot of masts in Whipton. I think parents are just worried about the lack of information on how they affect health."

Laurence Davey, one of the founders of Whipton Against Masts (WAM), said opposition to the mast was spreading.

"Lots of local shops and businesses have displayed our petitions and we have now collected 487 signatures from residents opposing the mast," he said.

"More than 318 residents have written letters of objection to the council too".

Mr Davey will speak out on behalf of residents at a council planning meeting on July 25.

Peter Edwards, councillor for Whipton, also said he would argue against the mast at the same committee meeting.

Hutchinson 3G have meanwhile released more details about the mast. How much of its 20-watt output would be directed towards homes and schools would depend on the alignment of its three antennae. One would face towards Whipton, one towards Heavitree and the third in the direction of Sowton Industrial Estate and the Met Office.

Mike Dobson, community affairs manager for Hutchinson 3G, said: "We have to be as close to residential areas as possible so we can give the best possible coverage. We had considered the Texaco garage in Honiton Road, but the owner refused.

"We also considered Rennes House, but Exeter City Council advised us they didn't want us to put it there.

"As a company, we try to put masts on existing structures to minimise the impact."

The mast would be built on Highways Agency-owned land. This means the county council will be informed of Hutchinson 3G's plans to built the mast if Exeter City Council grants them planning permission.
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