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Phone mast to dwarf Everest?

PRESSURE is mounting on Orange to scrap plans to place a mobile phone mast on residents' doorsteps.

The firm wants to put a 29-foot mast in Lea Wood Road, Fleet, but the plan has come under fire from approximately 200 people.

A total of 172 parents taking their children to nearby All Saints Junior and Tavistock Infants schools have sent objection letters to Hart Council. The governing bodies of both schools have objected.

The scheme has also come under fire from at least 26 residents, along with Hampshire County Council and Hart councillors sitting on the Fleet and Church Crookham Planning Advisory Group.

Leading campaigner Peter Withey said the mast would be unsightly.

"Standing alone on the grass verge, it is more than twice the height of existing lampposts and will dominate the street scene," he said.

"Contrast this with the masts in Crookham Road, Reading Road North and Elvetham Road, which are screened by trees, rhododendron bushes and other greenery.

"Such a prominent installation will undoubtedly adversely affect property values in the area, a material consideration that the planning committee must address.

"A mast which is situated so close to family houses and to a school will undoubtedly cause worry and stress to many people.

"Whatever the current state of scientific opinion and advice, the safety emissions from such masts remains unproven.

"The Stewart Report recommends the adoption of the precautionary principle when considering planning approval near sensitive sites such as schools.

"Hampshire County Council does not allow mobile masts on its sites and people will worry about their health and that of their children.

"There is a genuine threat to the well-being of the residents and the application should be rejected on these grounds alone.

"The installation is unnecessary, poorly sited and although alternative sites are available, Orange has not demonstrated that they have thoroughly explored them.

"Indeed, the planning application contains many errors and shows a very casual approach to an issue that will affect residents for years to come."

Mr Withey said the supporting statement with the planning application asked for a 9,325-metre high telecommunications pole.

"This is clearly impractical, exceeding the height of Everest," said Mr Withey.

"One of the councillors who has responded to my e-mail message outlining details of the mobile base station is Susan Band.

"Her husband George was the youngest member of the successful Everest bid in 1953, so he should know all about a proposed mast that is higher than Everest.

"This application, the third attempt to install a mast in Lea Wood Road, is flawed and the development control committee must reject it once again."

Mr Withey said that unless Hart councillors reject the mast, residents could find themselves taking part in a study to investigate the risk of early childhood cancers among people living near mobile phone base stations.

The investigation by Imperial College, London is part of a Government funded £7 million research programme.

"Hart children could easily find themselves as guinea pigs in this cancer report, which is not expected before April 2005," warned Mr Withey.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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