23 June 2003The Inspectorate The Planning Department 3/26 Hawk Wing Temple Quay House 2 The Square Temple Quay Bristol BS1 6PN
D OF E APPEAL REFERENCE: APP/V0510/A/03/1117079
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 Tetra telecommunications mast, which has been erected 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. This mast is as close as 55 metres to the nearest house.
The TETRA mast was moved from Icewell Hill Flats in Newmarket, after residents started a campaign, complaining about the perceived health risks. Forest Heath Planning Department supported their community and the mast was removed. The intention was that it was going to be sited in a more suitable location, in a non-residential area away from schools and hospitals.
The original mast erected on the Football ground had planning permission for mobile phone antenna only, and the installation of 3 no. collinear antennas was undertaken on 13 February 2003 under cover of darkness, without planning permission and was only noticed by a local resident who complained to the District Council. East Cambs District Council had warned Airwave MM02 Ltd in writing that they needed full planning permission but they repeatedly denied that they were planning to erect TETRA antennas.
The community is horrified at the underhanded way Airwave MM02 Ltd have behaved by erecting this mast without planning permission and that it is still up and transmitting.
East Cambs District Council has now rejected Airwave MM02 Ltd application for Retrospective planning permission.
Our campaign has the backing of the local residents, our two MP’s James Paice and Richard Spring, County Councillor Judy Broadway, District Councillors, the Parish Council and MEP, Andrew Duff plus local General Practitioner’s, the Board of Governors of the two primary Schools, Ditton Lodge and All Saints and the National Campaign group Mast Sanity.
The Campaign has received extensive TV and radio coverage, regular coverage in the local newspapers and support from the local community who have written 125 letters of objection and signed a 500+ signature petition. This is how great the public fear and concern is over this TETRA telecommunications mast.
Our main areas of concern are:
· 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 – they pulse microwaved radiation at a very low frequency 17Hz. 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 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.
Sir William Stewart gave evidence to the Department of Trade & Industry and Parliamentary Select Committee and when questioned about the frequency that Tetra emits on and the fact that in the ‘Stewart Report’ he had strongly urged frequencies around 16 Hz be avoided for health reasons, he said, “Tetra was a hazard”.
Local residents within a large circumference of the mast have 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.
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 is 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.
This mast is near two Primary Schools, Ditton Lodge and All Saints Schools, both of which are less than ½ km away. Neither school was aware of the change of usage of the mast to Tetra.
‘Planning Policy Guidance Note 8’ states “where a mast is to be installed on or near a school or college it is important that operators discuss the proposed development with the relevant body of the school or college concerned before submitting an application for planning permission”. The operator has not discussed this issue with the Headteacher, Mr Rolfe, at Ditton Lodge Primary School or the Governors or with Mr Bell, Headteacher at All Saints Primary School or the Governors and therefore this application should surely be invalid. Legislation directs the Council to let the schools know and I would argue that the Planning Department by not going to directly to the Headteachers of either school, is contravening this legislation. Therefore, if the decision goes to accept retrospective planning permission, the decision will be unlawful.
Chris Mayle, 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.
We would like to request that the Planning Inspector, views the mast from the two local Primary Schools, Ditton Lodge and All Saints Schools.
· Visual impact/loss of personal amenity - The mast can be seen for miles around and clearly visible from homes, thus affecting the quality of life – leading to loss of amenity. Local residents are very angry and worried about the dangers of this mast, 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.
The mast has been erected just 64m from Mr & Mrs Booth’s home of 53 New Cheveley Road.
The Human Rights Act (Oct 2002 -article 8) states “You have the right to respect: for your private & family life & your home”
The mast is visually very intrusive to the Booth’s. They have an unobstructed view of the mast from their back garden. It is a constant reminder of the fear and anxiety they feel and is destructive to their quality of life & impairs their everyday environment. This is the same for many other residents in the area.
We would like to ask the Planning Inspector to view the mast from Mr & Mrs Booth’s back garden to see for themselves how intrusive it is to them. Mr & Mrs Booth have written separately to convey their objections.
Additionally, local residents are also complaining about constant instances of interference in radio and television programmes. This is also a continuous reminder to the local population of the concern and fear over the mast and impairs their quality of life.
· Have alternative sites been explored? It is the legal obligation of Airwave MM02 Ltd to explore all other alternative sites. We do not believe that this has been done. In fact we have had it confirmed from East Cambs District Council, that an alternative and more appropriate site on ‘Warren Hill’ would give better coverage for the Police in the villages to the East of Newmarket. The current site does not provide coverage for villages to the East. The Council also has evidence that the site provider of Warren Hill (Highpoint Communications) are willing to consider this Tetra mast (see 4.3 of ‘Technical Appraisal of Planning Application’ by Sue Finlayson for East Cambs District Council).
We would also like to inform the Planning Inspectorate that there is 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 that Wilson Connelly Homes are actually 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.
In conclusion, we, on behalf of all the local residents believe it to be completely unreasonable to allow this mast to continue 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 appeal.
We, on behalf of the community cannot stress more strongly how great the public concern, fear and anger is over this Tetra telecommunications mast.
Please could send us a copy of the appeal decision, confirm receipt of this letter and confirm that visits will be made by the Planning Inspector to view the mast from both Schools and Mr & Mrs Booth’s back garden.
On behalf of the Local Community
Enc (scrap book of press coverage)