BY ZOE COLVILE

ANGRY residents, preparing for a fresh battle against a proposed 80ft mobile phone mast in a residential area of Crowthorne, are hoping the council will "listen to the people".

Bracknell Forest Borough Council is due to make a decision about the proposed development at a planning and highways meeting tomorrow night.

The campaign against telecoms giant Orange was launched in March of this year when protesters sent a 50-name petition opposing the mast to the com-pany, local councillors and land-owners Forest Enterprise.

Forest Enterprise owns the proposed site for the mast at Brookers Row Triangle and south of Brookers Row.

Peter Salter, of Old Wokingham Road, is one of the organisers of the campaign.

He said: "There are several people going to the planning meeting on Thursday to listen to the decision, but, of course, we are not allowed to speak.

"We already know what the officials are recommending to the committee and we are not happy about it.

"It will be a political decision in the end because Orange will appeal and history shows that councils tend not to win these cases.

"I think it will be a very uphill battle but we are not giving up hope. We just want the committee to be aware of the strength of feeling among residents, play it all with a straight bat and listen to the people.

"The bottom line is we will all end up with devalued properties."

Crowthorne Parish Council is recommending the application be refused and Wokingham District is requesting that the committee give consideration to residents' concerns.

Wokingham Without Parish Council has expressed concern about the visual aspect of the development as it will be adjacent to the small belt of trees that have been left uncut by Brookers Row.

They say that as it is 25 metres high and has an equipment

cabinet much larger than was anticipated which will have a "considerable impact".

Another concerned resident from Old Wokingham Road, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote a letter to Bracknell Forest Borough Council this week in a final bid to stop the application from going ahead.

He wrote: "Although our concerns are the visual aspects and the possible health risks, we cannot understand why the proximity of the mast is so close to a residential area.

"With this in mind we emplore you to reconsider the location. Given that the mast will tower 10 metres above the surrounding trees we cannot see any advantage in siting the mast so close to the most populated area.

"The mast will be an eyesore wherever it is located so the further away from the residents the better. Also the so-called shrub cover of the outbuildings could take as long as five years to provide adequate cover."

The application includes three panel antenna, two dish antenna, and a 18 metre by eight metre equipment cabin enclosed by a 2.1 metre fence.

A spokesman for Orange said: "Orange has been using innovative designs such as trees lamp posts and telegraph poles for its telecoms installations for the past five years.

"The aim is to ensure that our sites blend in with the surrounding environment where possible.

"Orange acknowledges public concern regarding the siting of transmitters, however, there is no conclusive evidence that makes a link between exposure to radio waves, transmitter sites and long-term public health risks.

"A typical Orange transmitter site operates at levels many hundreds of times below national and international guidelines in areas where the general public would have access."

In total the council has received 20 letters of objection. Bracknell Forest Borough Council officers have recommended the application be approved with some conditions.