Ban the mast - Felixstowe protest mounts

FAMILIES are drawing up plans for an around-the-clock protest if a phone company tries to put up a mast on a site where it has been refused permission.

By Richard Cornwell

FAMILIES are drawing up plans for an around-the-clock protest if a phone company tries to put up a mast on a site where it has been refused permission.

"We will protest and we will protest loud and long," said Felixstowe town and district councillor Dot Paddick.

"There is no way that people living near this site will sit back and take this – we will fight all the way. It is a disgrace. This could affect our health.

"I have been investigating whether a court injunction can be made to stop this site being used, and council officials are looking at enforcement action.

"Residents will be here to protest and if the worst happens, the site will just become a big permanent car park."

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Hutchinson 3G claims it can put the ten feet phone mast on the grass verge in Coronation Drive because Suffolk Coastal council, which refused the project, took too long to make its decision.

The company claims that means it gets permission by default – on a technicality.

"It is a ridiculous state of affairs. The community here is dead against this mast and for very good reasons and we would appeal to Hutchinson 3G to respect that and look for a suitable alternative site," said Mrs Paddick.

She is pressing for Suffolk Coastal, with the help of the town council, to draw up a list of sites where masts could be built without posing alleged health risks.

"I think it is high time the planning officers looked at the map and said we will accept masts here, here and here, but not in residential areas," she said.

"They could put them on the edge of towns or in less sensitive places in the countryside, and not where they would send their microwaves into school playground and buildings and children's bedrooms."

She is also concerned about the way some companies are hiding the masts – consent has just been given for one hidden in a chimney at the White Horse Inn, Church Road, Felixstowe, and others are being disguised in petrol filling station signs and other structures.

"My concern is that people moving into an area may not be aware that there is a mast nearby – if you can't see it, you cannot decide whether you want to risk your health by living next to it," she said.

Chris Slemmings, cabinet spokesman for the environment for Suffolk Coastal, said it was a difficult because the phone companies have been under pressure to disguise the masts so they are not an unsightly blot on the landscape.

"I think it is a very good point because a search when you are buying a house would not pick up a phone mast nearby, though I understand there is a web site which details where masts are put," he said.

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