16
Jul
2005

Mast protest over controversial plan for pole position

KATIE EMSLIE

Edinburgh Evening News

A CAMPAIGN has been launched against controversial plans to site a mobile phone mast just metres away from a doctor's surgery and two care homes.

Mobile phone company T-Mobile is facing a raft of objections over its plans to site a 11.7-metre mast in Mountcastle Drive South, in Duddingston.

The mast, which would only be a short distance away from an existing one in Bingham Avenue, would stand near a GP's surgery, the Jewel House care home for the elderly and Calareidh, a respite home for sick children.

No fewer than 40 letters of objection to the proposals have been delivered to the council from furious residents.

These include a strongly worded letter from the councillor for Duddingston, Ian Berry, who also wrote to Marconi APR, the company acting as an agent for T-Mobile.

He said: "This mast is totally inappropriate for this area. It is far too near the doctor's surgery, and the sick kids' respite home is virtually underneath the proposed mast. Aside from health and safety issues, which are very serious, there is the aesthetic aspect. It is a huge pole plonked right in the middle of a high amenity area."

Councillor Berry said the new mast was also surplus to requirements.

"There is also a similar type of mast at the school in Bingham Avenue and I feel most strongly that this is more than enough for this area to cope with. I see no need for another mast in this area whatsoever." His concerns were backed by Tony Zawachkivsky, a private landlord who lives with his partner in Mountcastle Drive South.

The couple who already have two young sons, are expecting twins in September.

Mr Zawachkivsky, 39, said: "Our main concern is obviously the effect the mast might have on our children.

"We don't know what this will do to people living close by in the next 20 years or so."

However, Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health for NHS Lothian, said: "The current balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to the health of people living near base stations.

Omega is a general risk to the health of people living near base stations. See under: //www.buergerwelle.de/body_science.html

"We are very aware of the concerns people may have about these masts and we continue to monitor ongoing research into this topic to assess any potential implications for the health of the people of Lothian."

Mr Zawachkivsky said he feared the planning application would get the go-ahead despite the strength of the campaign to oppose it.

"I very much doubt it will be refused because the mast is lower than 15 metres. But we thought there was no harm in showing the strength of feeling.

"Perhaps it might make the mobile phone company think twice about it."

The campaigners' hopes of success have been boosted by a narrow victory won recently by protesters in Livingston over a similarly controversial phone mast.

Campaigners in the Dedridge community were ecstatic after local councillors voted by five votes to four to reject plans for a 45-feet tall Vodafone mast at a Territorial Army centre and close to a secondary school.

With the Duddingston group's letters of objection now formally lodged, the decision rests with the council's planning chiefs. A spokesman for T-Mobile UK said: "The planning application is the due process for determination of the proposal and the council will decide the outcome."
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