0844 443 5450
- Articles View Hits
Or Send Donations by post to:
Mast Sanityc/o Highfields
Manningtree, EssexCO11 1SD
Manningtree, EssexCO11 1SD
Press Release from Berry Lane, Rickmansworth - Community Uproar Over Mast Proposal
- Parent Category: Media
COMMUNITY UPROAR OVER MAST PROPOSAL
Seething with anger, 150 residents living in and near Berry Lane, Rickmansworth, parents of children at Arnett Hills primary school - and a number of the children themselves - braved persistent rain last Saturday morning to stand together on the proposed site of a mobile phone mast in a show of defiance.
Over the last three years Three Rivers District Council, strongly supported by a large number of local objectors, has thrown out each of T-Mobile's applications for a mast on a pleasant area of grass, mature trees and shrubs in Berry Lane, between Chiltern Drive and Oakfield.
To the horror of all who had objected, and to many who had not had the opportunity to do so, T-Mobile appealed in September 2007 against the Council's rejection of its latest application - for a mast on the grass adjacent to 71 and 73 Berry Lane and no more than 10 metres from the garden boundaries of the nearest houses. Then, to the surprise of virtually everybody, an Inspector decided to allow the appeal.
Objectors have only 6 weeks (from 18 December) within which to mount a legal challenge but this period has shrunk to 3 weeks because of the Christmas postal delays and Christmas and New Year holiday periods.
Local residents are adamant that an 8.5 metre high mast, on the brow of a hill, would be extremely obtrusive and totally incongruous in such a residential neighbourhood. They furthermore insist that the mast - together with an ugly equipment cabinet next to it -would add to street clutter and act as a target for vandals; that an oak tree and nearby bushes would almost inevitably be damaged or destroyed during the installation, bearing in mind the depth and width of the excavation work required for a mast of this height; and that it is entirely inappropriate to site the mast so close to the school which is no more than 150 metres away (or 120 metres from the school playground).
One of the major fears felt by objectors, particularly by those living near to the mast and parents of children at the school, relates to concerns about the possible dangers to health arising from the emission of radio frequency from such masts. These genuinely held fears have been heightened by many media reports with headlines such as
"Phone mast pulled down after school cancer scare" (The Times 23/4/07) "Phone masts cause school cancer scare" (The Times 11/10/07) "Mobile phone cancer report 'buried'" (The Sunday Times 15/4/07) "Revealed: cancer clusters at phone masts (The Sunday Times 22/4/07) "Mobile mast will move from cancer cluster flats" (Daily Mail 7/8/07) and by published research suggesting that *ICNIRP guidelines are much too lax.
Given that the Government's own guidelines ** provide that
"Health considerations and public concern can in principle be material considerations in determining applications.... It is for the decision-maker.... to determine what weight to attach to such considerations in any particular case".
the Inspector's assessment of them as not carrying such weight as to justify refusal of the T-Mobile application was most disappointing, not the least in the face of the many submissions made to him on this point by residents and parents.
Residents and parents met local Councillors on 8 January when it was stated that the Council itself could see no justification for applying for judicial review. Faced with this further disappointment some residents/parents are seeking specialist legal advice at their own expense and hope to raise funds to seek judicial review themselves if this is consistent with the advice received from solicitors in the next day or two.
But whatever the eventual outcome, there is indignation in the Berry Lane neighbourhood at the anxiety and stress these successive mast applications have caused to residents and parents alike, and at the fact that Councillors appear to have no power to stop developments in Three Rivers that both they and their ratepayers reject.
21 January 2008
* International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection
** Planning Policy Guidance 8 : Telecommunications Planning Policy para 29