24 September 2003
East Cambs District Council
Dear Mr Doe
OBJECTION TO PLANNING APPLICATION 03/00898/FUL
We are a campaign called ‘Site Masts Sensibly’. We are made up of a group of residents from East Cambs and Forest Heath, who are writing to you on behalf of the local community to convey their fear, concern and anger over the proposal by Vodafone to erect an 18m monopole, to replace the existing 16.5m floodlight with 6no VF panel antennas and 2no dishes on a new concrete base in a highly populated, residential area. The location is Newmarket Town Football Club, a small football ground, which, unlike others is based in the centre of a diversely populated area. It is very close to two primary schools, family homes and retired residents.
The mast was originally on Icewell Hill Flats in Newmarket, but is being moved now that the lease has run out as Forest Heath District Council have a zero mast policy.
Our campaign has the backing of the local residents, our two MP’s James Paice and Richard Spring, District Councillors and the National Campaign group Mast Sanity.
Our main areas of concern are:
· Actual health effects (paragraph 29 of PPG8)
· Perceived health effects
· Visual Impact/Loss of personal amenity
· Insufficient evidence of alternative sites
· Health Risks – It is no longer possible to argue that health is not a material planning consideration (see court cases below). Nobody knows what the long-term health risks will be from these masts. It can hardly be disputed that to enjoy an acceptable quality of life requires more than simply an absence of terminal disease.
The government sponsored ‘Stewart Report - March 2001’ clearly does not rule out the possible harmful effects of exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. The Stewart Report Para 6.68 recommends a precautionary approach when siting these masts. It clearly states that masts should not be near schools, near the homes of children or other vulnerable people
Local residents within a large circumference of the TETRA mast have already been complaining of unexplained headaches, tiredness and a general feeling of ill health and these problems have been ascribed by them to the erection of the Tetra telecommunications mast. They do not want another mast to be allowed near their homes.
April 2003 – Southampton City Council v’s Hutchison 3g Orange.
High Court cases (R.v.Stockport MBC exparte Smith – The Honourable Mr Justice Ouseley – Case No. CO/159/2001 & The Queen on the application of Julia Herman & Others v Winchester City Council & Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd – Mr Justice Hooper & The Honourable Mr Justice Ouseley – Case No. CO/956/2001).
· The installation will be a very short distance away from two primary schools and in a residential area. Children are particularly vulnerable because of the increased rate at which their cells divide (making them more susceptible to genetic damage) and because their nervous system is still developing – the smaller size of their heads and their thinner skulls increasing the amount of radiation that they absorb. Particularly vulnerable to interference by the pulsed microwave radiation used in GSM is their electrical brain-wave activity, which does not settle into a stable pattern until puberty. The radiation locks onto brainwaves and alters its action affecting the child’s learning ability and its behaviour and in many cases, leading to disruptive behaviour. (Appendix 1), Report by G J Hyland – August 2002).
This mast is near two Primary Schools, Ditton Lodge and All Saints Schools, both of which are less than ½ km away.
Chris Maile, Chairman of the Campaign for Planning Sanity, and Mr Alan Meyer, Legal Advisor to Mast Action UK, had a meeting with the former Planning Minister, Lord Falconer, who told them he issued instructions to planning officers that no mast of any kind should be sited nearer to a school or its boundaries than 150 yards, thus admitting that there is extra risks to children.
· Visual impact/loss of personal amenity - The mast would be 4m bigger than the floodlight and would have 6 antenna protruding. These antenna would not be able to be disguised and would be clearly visible from nearby homes thus affecting the quality of life – leading to loss of amenity. The Human Rights Act (October 2002 – article 8) states ‘You have the right to respect for your private and family life and your home’. Local residents are very angry and worried about the dangers, whether it is perceived or real and this has already caused a considerable amount of anxiety, worry & stress and fear of what could happen to them and their children. The community is being made to feel unsafe. Genuine public perception of danger is a valid planning consideration.
We do not feel that East Cambs District Council’s planning notification, sent out to a handful of local residents, is a true depiction of the actual proposal. What about the people who live in Forest Health who will be very close to the mast, do they not deserve the right to know just because they are across the boundary? The mobile phone companies use the boundary issue to their advantage. We feel that the Public have not been fully or fairly informed. The Council’s description is misleading to the public and makes it sound as though the mast will only be 18m high in total. Surely a planning notification should be accurate? We would like the Council to re-notify the local population within a mile radius of the mast with the correct information.
Where will the floodlights be on the proposed mast and how high will they be? This is not clear. If the floodlight is going to be raised, will the other 3 be raised? We would like this clarified.
This area is becoming more densely population with a proposal to build 11 new 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings on the grounds of the former Garage in Cricket Field Road which runs along the bottom of the football ground and Wilson Connolly Homes are in the process of building 60 new 2 and 3 bedroom properties aimed at families on the waste ground on the other side of the railway line.
When we spoke to Wilson Connolly Homes they knew nothing about the proposal from Vodafone for a new mast. It is madness that the Council have not let them know. These houses are for families and they will be the closest to the proposed mast.
· Have alternative sites been explored? It is the legal obligation of Vodafone to explore all other alternative sites. We do not believe that this has been done. In Vodafone’s planning application (under Site Selection Process, Page 3) they have stated that for technical difficulties and for planning reasons, they have not chosen Warren Hill, Moulton Road, as an alternative site. On Page 9 they also state that the mast at Warren Hill is too far to the East to provide any coverage to the target areas. How do we know this, as they have not provided a coverage map for Warren Hill? Having spoken to Mr Jameson of Highpoint Radio Communications Ltd, who own the mast on Warren Hill, he categorically denies that Vodafone have contacted them regarding the mast. How can Vodafone make the above statements regarding coverage or planning reasons without actually contacting Highpoint Communications? Mr Jameson feels that they would be able to accommodate Vodafones needs by moving around a few antennae and dishes, and if this were true it would meet the Government’s guidelines and East Cambs District Council’s guidelines regarding mast sharing.
Mast Sanity a campaign group that we belong to, have proven that it is technically feasible for 2G (GSM) and 3G (UMTS) network operators to share ‘network infrastructure’ i.e. they share the antennae, not more antennae on one mast. This infrastructure is already available at Warren Hill and would prevent the proliferation of masts in this rural/suburban area. The Government is actually trying to encourage mast/antennae sharing.
We believe that Vodafone are misleading the Council in their aim to achieve an independent mast in the Newmarket area. There is a precedence of poor professional behaviour towards local communities by O2 and Vodafone, not just within Newmarket but nationwide. We want clear proof that these alternative sites are not suitable before any decision is made.
Could the Council not verify all technical information by mobile phone companies now and in the future before making any decisions? Surely, this should be part of the planning process? It should not be up to local residents and campaign grounds to check the facts.
Why don’t East Cambs Council call in an expert independent company for all the technical advice?
We want East Cambs Planning Authority to draw up a policy regarding the siting of mobile phone masts and base stations within East Cambs so that there is a clear policy for everyone to follow and we would be happy to help with this.
In conclusion, we, on behalf of all the local residents believe it to be completely unreasonable to allow a mast to be sited in what is already, a highly populated residential area and whose population is going to increase greatly in the very near future. We hope that you will take all of the above important concerns of the community into consideration when making your decision about this mast.
We, on behalf of the community cannot stress more strongly how great the public concern, fear and anger is over any masts on the Football Ground.
Site Masts SensiblyOn behalf of the Local Community