31
Jul
2005

Mast plans thrown out by Waverley

29/07/2005

WAVERLEY Borough Council took a stand against the “relentless march of technology” on Wednesday by throwing out controversial plans for a mobile phone mast in Westland Farm, Shamley Green.

Faced with considerable local opposition and led by chairman, Cllr Richard Worby, (Ewhurst) members of the authority’s area planning sub-committee overturned officers’ recommendations to approve the Orange proposal and instead unanimously rejected it.

Cllr Worby accepted there was probably a case for infill masts where there was a total failure to receive a signal but he pointed out the Westland Farm mast would be for third generation or 3G mobile phone technology, which allows for video communication, music downloads and the like. “I do wonder whether we need to sacrifice the countryside so people can have some very silly toys – they are not necessary,” he said.

“I am dead against allowing this relentless march of technology, much of it pointless, to destroy all we hold dear.”

Orange had rejected claims that it had failed to adequately explore more suitable alternative sites for the mast, insisting it could not go along with suggestions that it could share a mast already approved at Rooks Hill in Bramley.

The phone company claimed that this mast would not link up with two other masts it had been planning in the area.

However, Wednesday’s meeting was told that permission for both of these masts had been turned down so there are no other masts for it to link up with.

Both Bramley and Wonersh Parish Councils are opposed to the Westland Farm mast and the borough council had received 79 letters of objection from local residents.

Bramley resident, Patrick Molyneux, addressed the meeting on behalf of the objectors with a hard-hitting attack on the plan, covering both the adverse environmental impact he argued the mast would have, and the perceived health fears.

“The mast triangulates three schools, over-towers ancient woodland, the Downs Link, Cranleigh Waters, the old Wey & Arun Canal and the east/west path between Bramley and Shamley,” he said.

Mr Molyneux pointed out that there are children (living in the local area) who would fall within the exclusion zone recommended by experts and mandated in both the USA and parts of Europe.

He explained that the mast could also threaten a roosting and feeding site for bats, which are a protected species.

“This is another piecemeal application with no attempt to create a coherent strategy for these parishes or explanation of how this fits within a strategy for the five 3G operators, let alone just Orange,” he concluded.

The lack of an overall mobile phone mast plan for the area is a regular complaint of councillors and was again raised during the debate.

One of the major causes of concern for people living close to mast is the perceived associated health risks associated with radiation emitted from the mast.

Although the Government has said these are non-existent, it does allow councils to refuse mast plans if people have a genuine fear.

Cllr David Inman (Chiddingfold & Dunsfold) told the meeting.
“The main worry with all these masts is are we going to find later on in life that they have damaged children?”
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