Battle lines drawn over mobile mast

Blackpool Today

PLANS to site a phone mast close to a primary school have met with furious opposition from parents. More than 500 letters of opposition have been handed to Vodafone in response to plans by the telecommunications giant to erect a four metre high antenna on top of a building close to Norbreck Primary School.

Darren Stringer, 40, who organised the protest and delivered 558 letters and a 137 name petition to the firm said residents of North Shore were horrified. The father-of-three, who has an eight-year-old daughter at the school, said: "There is huge opposition to this mast from parents and local residents who are concerned about the health risks. "Our campaign is based on numerous reports warning about radiation from the antenna and I don't want my children subjected to that kind of health risk. "If the Government warns us not to let kids use mobile phones too much, and we should not use them in petrol stations, then surely that shows there is a problem."

A nursery school within the grounds of Norbreck Primary, the outer edge of which is 70m from the antennae, is also set to open, causing further concern for Mr Stringer's partner Joanne Rigby. She added: "Not only are there schoolchildren, but also nursery children who will be involved. "There has been no long-term study on the effects of mobile phone masts. "Why wouldn't we want to err on the side of caution until the facts are properly known? "We would appeal to Vodafone one last time, people in this area do not want this mast here, can it not go somewhere else?"

Vodafone consulted local residents at a recent exhibition in Cleveleys prior to notification going to Blackpool Council, which is not required to grant permission due to the height of the antennae. Although Vodafone sent 600 letters to objectors, the drop-in session was attended by just 25 residents.

Mum-of-two Amanda Holden said: "They organised it in the middle of the summer holidays when many people are away and from 4.30pm to 7.30pm when mums of children at the school are giving them tea and putting them to bed. "It could not have been organised at a time more inconvenient to most of the protesters."

Norbreck ward Coun Peter Callow said: "There needs to be a full and proper public meeting for the people of this area to have their say rather than an exhibition held when many people are on holiday. "We were also disappointed that the drop in was in Cleveleys and not Norbreck, but the company knows it will be in for a hard time if it does call such a meeting because feelings are running high."

While there are no plans for another meeting Vodafone bosses confirmed they are looking at alternative sites suggested by those who attended the exhibition before the antennae is erected. A Vodafone spokeswoman said: "There were 13 alternatives which we are looking at, but residents must realise that as the antennae has a small coverage area there will be one in this vicinity. "In our view this is the preferable option because it is discreet and does not require a new structure on the highway." The spokesman added the company had followed European and World Health Organisation guidelines which cover radio signals from mobile phone masts, TV, radio and emergency services communications equipment.

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31 August 2005


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