Residents fight plan for 8 metre tall mast

by Lucy Stephens

This is York

DOZENS of furious locals have launched a protest bid against a mobile phone mast, which is to be installed in the heart of their community.

Residents in the Albemarle Road area of South Bank, York, have hit out at the city council and mobile phone giant T-Mobile after the operator won permission to put an eight-metre high mast close to the allotments which border the street.

Emilie Smeaton, of nearby Trafalgar Street, said feelings were running high.

"A number of people are very, very angry about the mast being in that place," she said. "It's opposite Knavesmire, which is used for all kinds of activities. I'm concerned about the health impact for people."

Emilie said people in the community were also left fuming after the matter was brought as a matter of urgency before City of York Council's planning committee with only a day's notice for locals to go along.

She said most people in the area were not even aware that the mast was being planned, and were now preparing to take the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Louisa Machado, of Albemarle Road, said: "I don't feel we have been given enough notice or given a chance to air our views. I certainly would have written a letter of objection had I known about it sooner.

"Royal Ascot was a five-day event, and yet the consultation was tremendous - it's a shame that the same thought couldn't go into something that's going to affect our lives on a daily basis."

Government planning guidance says councils and mobile phone operators should consult schools when planning to install phone masts - but they are not statutorily obliged to do so.

Planning chief Ann Reid said after last week's planning meeting that the nearest school to the mast - Millthorpe School - had not been thought near enough to warrant consultation.

Planning committee chairman Coun Richard Watson said it had been necessary to call the meeting at short notice because of tight deadlines set by the Government to determine phone applications.

Richard Hattersley, speaking on behalf of T-Mobile, said he was surprised the mast had provoked such anger. "This shouldn't be a controversial site," he said.

"It isn't very close to houses in the context of masts in an urban area.

"It's not a large installation - we're not talking about a 25-metre mast."

A T-Mobile spokesman said it was "confident" its base stations did not present a health risk.

Omega this is not true. See under:
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"It is important to recognise that the radio frequency signal from them (base stations) represents just one source of radio frequency in everyday lives," he said.

Updated: 10:25 Saturday, September 03, 2005


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