Leicester Mercury

10:30 - 04 August 2005

Plans to put six more mobile phone masts on a tower block have been rejected after a councillor described the building as like "an anchored satellite".

Elizabeth House already has 16 masts on its roof and residents say that is too many.

The city's planning committee has now rejected a new application by phone company O2, fearing the antennae may pose a risk.

Residents welcomed the news today - but appealed for the block's existing masts to be removed.

Over the past 10 years, 14 antennae, two dish antennae and four equipment cabinets have been installed on the roof of the tower block, in Waterloo Way, near Leicester train station. One resident, Phil Hendy, claims he is suffering ill health from the existing mobile phone aerials.

Mr Hendy, 61, has lived on the top floor of Elizabeth House since 1979, but says his health deteriorated after masts were installed in 1999.

He said: "I suffer from dizziness, headaches, loss of balance, loss of power in my limbs and arthritis.

"The symptoms ease when I leave the building. I live right under the main equipment cabinet and there are also electrical cables on the roof.

"Residents are pleased with the decision but really they should be trying to remove what's already there."

Councillor Patrick Kitterick, who represents the city centre, said: "There is nowhere else in Leicester where you have this concentration of antennae in one location and it is growing and growing.

"You would not put these antenna near a row of terraces - it's only flat-dwellers who seem to have to put up with this."

Planning committee member Coun John Thomas said: "This is not so much a block of flats as an anchored telecommunications satellite.

"The people living at the top of the flats must be right in the firing line. We have reached saturation point."

Planning officers - who had advised councillors to approve O2's application - said that radiation readings taken last week by phone regulator Ofcom showed that levels of exposure in and around Elizabeth House were "well within the maximum levels allowed".

The highest dose, at the junction of Campbell Street and Fox Street, is one-thousandth of the national safety figure.

They said councillors could choose to refuse permission if they believed it had not been proved that there was no health risk from an increased number of aerials.

Councillors voted unanimously to refuse the application, on the grounds of the number of existing antennae and possible health risks.

O2 spokeswoman Angela Johnson said: "It is too early to say whether we will appeal but we are very disappointed that we haven't got this site.

"The cumulative effect of the radiation is thousands of times lower than international safety guidelines and is less than a mobile itself."

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