‘Disgraceful’ plan to put phone mast on top of church

Hamstead and Highgate Express


22 July 2005

Andrew Brightwell

A CASH-strapped Highgate church is facing stiff opposition from angry neighbours over plans to place a mobile mast on its ancient spire.

Father Andrew Meldrum, vicar of St Anne's in Highgate West Hill, is weighing up whether to allow an antenna at the Grade II-listed church.

The church could get £10,000 for the deal with T-Mobile, but is consulting with all residents within 150 metres of the church before making a decision.

Deborah and Adrian Laing, who live in Langbourne Avenue near the church, are furious that St Anne's is even considering the plan.

The couple, who are both solicitors, believe that mobile masts are a health hazard and have already started a campaign to stop it.

Mr Laing said: "My wife has already photocopied the letters and is pinning them to trees around the Holly Lodge estate.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure that this does not happen. We can see the spire from our home and we have five young children.

"The church can expect us to take every legal means at our disposal to stop this. We think it is a disgrace."

In his letter to locals, Fr Meldrum said: "If the installation were to proceed, St Anne's would receive an annual fee.

"This would be used to the benefit of the church and community and could provide some stability for long-term projects.

"In terms of the effect of the installation on the surrounding area we are assured that any installation would have no visual effect on the church building or the neighbourhood, as any antennae and accompanying equipment would be housed within the spire of the church."

If permitted the mast would be used to boost coverage on T-Mobile's 3G network. The church is currently engaged in a major renovation project and is expecting to complete work on its roof in mid-October.

While it would like to raise more money to support further works, including £25,000 worth of improvements to its bells, Fr Meldrum said the Parish Church Council (PCC) has not decided what it would use the cash for.

He said: "We deliberately haven't considered what we would do with the money because we don't want it to influence our decision on whether we accept the mobile company's offer."

Those who might want to help the fundraising efforts at St Anne's can send their donations to Father Andrew Meldrum, 106 Highgate West Hill, London N6.



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