Fury over proposed mobile phone mast

Concerned residents
Concerned residents

SCORES of angry residents have signed a petition in protest over plans to put a mobile phone mast near their homes.

People living in The Suttons, off Crowhurst Road, in St Leonards, and neighbouring streets, said the 20-metre-high mast will be an eyesore and blasted developers for wanting to sight it so close to houses and near The St Leonards Academy’s Darwell campus (formerly The Grove).

They also said hardly any residents received letters from the council, telling them of the proposals.

Around 70 people living in the neighbourhood have signed the petition.

Vodafone wants to put the mast on a highway verge north of Crowhurst Road, jusy off the entrance into The Suttons.

Mike Cox, of The Suttons, who drew up the petition, said: “The very real health issues of emitted radiation are of major concern and the constant visual presence of the mast will be a reminder of these on a day-to-day basis.

“The mast will have a detrimental effect on property values and it is suggested that some £10,000 or more could be wiped off resale prices.

“With an existing mast on the site, the proposal flies in the face of the Government’s own Stewart Report, stating that no additional masts should be erected at existing sites. This is effectively for two more, both Vodafone and O2.

“Given that the first notification over the proposal was received on January 14, there was inadequate time to trawl the area properly. Therefore the number of people who have signed the petition in no way reflects the true depth of feeling against this proposal by residents.”

Ray Jackson, of Wishing Tree Lane, St Leonards, also criticised the lack of time to voice residents’ concerns and added he was only told about the proposals on Friday.

Councillor Phil Scott, for Wishing Tree Ward, said: “There are real concerns here that the consultation process around this application has been flawed. “Neither Wishing Tree Residents Association nor I as the ward councillor were consulted, as well as some residents living within a few metres of the proposed site. It is clear that on this occasion the community engagement that we have seen with other planning applications has been somewhat absent. The proposal to site this next to a residential area and a main school are not acceptable to this community. I would suggest that Vodafone look further up the Queensway stretch of road for a more appropriate site.”

A spokesman for the developers said: “Vodafone and O2 have decided that we will share network assets wherever we can, which will reduce the overall number of new base station locations for both parties, reduce deployment costs and follow the guidance set out in planning legislation. Base stations are low-powered devices which only cover approximately half a mile in radius and therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers.

“We recognise that some communities are concerned regarding the deployment of radio base stations close to residential areas but without radio base stations, mobile phones will not be able to work. All of our base stations are designed, built and operated in accordance with stringent international guidelines laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.”