26
Jul
2005

Mast is 'insensitive'

By Jane Wharton

Eping Forest Guardian 25.07.05

RESIDENTS are furious over plans to put a phone mast twice the height of a lamppost within metres of their homes and a school.

Householders around Chigwell Rise, Chigwell, have slammed T-mobile over proposals to install a 14.7m-high aerial, but because it is under 15m it does not require planning permission.

Graham Lancaster, of Chester Road, said: "When I heard about it, I thought it was a joke. It's totally inappropriate to have it so close to a residential area and the school. If you had to think of the most insensitive place to put a mast, you would choose here."

Mr Lancaster claimed residents had not been properly consulted and he was only notified by a letter addressed "to the occupier."

He assumed it was junk mail and almost threw it away. He said only two other neighbours had received a letter.

"I really am furious that something so important in terms of impact is dealt with in that way. I've lived here for 20 years, yet suddenly I'm an unnamed occupier'."

The mast would be sited on the corner of Chigwell Rise and Chester Road, on land which Epping Forest District Council believes is owned by Essex County Council.

Mr Lancaster called the area "the green lung" of Chigwell and added he was fearful for the health of residents and pupils at the nearby Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College.

He questioned why the company could not share a mast with other networks, or why it could not be sited on a building.

He added: "There are two on the M11 about 100m away. If I'd approached the local authority to put a flagpole in my back garden they wouldn't stop laughing. This will be seen for miles around."

The residents have instructed solicitors to represent their interests.

T-Mobile said it understood there were often concerns when locating masts, but a spokesman said: "Without a network of base stations, mobile phones simply do not work."

She added: "We will always try to share masts with other networks, where possible.

"When our agents go to look for sites all considerations are taken into account. When a new mast is needed we try to reduce the impact on the local environment with sensitive siting, innovative design and where appropriate landscaping.

"Based on over 40 years of research, we're confident our base stations do not present a health risk to any member of the public."

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Other sites, including Victory Hall, the Metropolitan Police Sports Club and the golf club, were ruled out because the landowner refused permission or there was signal interference.

A district council spokesman said: "As the mast is under 15m it does not require planning permission as T-Mobile is a statutory undertaker.

"What it does require is prior approval from us and this is where we currently are.

"We cannot refuse permission as such, all we can do is object to their siting on aesthetic and street scene grounds."

8:06am Monday 25th July 2005
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