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Mast protesters threaten to sue

PUBLISHED: 02:09 23 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

FAMILIES in Felixstowe today threatened to sue if a mobile phone mast is put up near their homes – and they could win.

Campaigners have been boosted after a landmark case in which seven households were awarded £117,000 after showing that a mast had devalued their properties.

FAMILIES in Felixstowe today threatened to sue if a mobile phone mast is put up near their homes – and they could win.

Campaigners have been boosted after a landmark case in which seven households were awarded £117,000 after showing that a mast had devalued their properties.

Their council in Swindon had intended to reject the communications mast but failed to make its decision in the time allowed – exactly the same as Suffolk Coastal council did at Coronation Drive in Felixstowe.

It failed to meet the deadline for rejecting the aerial by just one day – taking 57 instead of 56 – and now Hutchison 3G claims it has deemed permission to put up the 10 metre pole at the resort.

"If Hutchison 3G put that mast in place then the families who live around it will definitely sue the council and we are already taking action to get ready for that," said campaign leader, Liberal Democrat councillor Dot Paddick.

"There is not a cat in hell's chance of us changing our minds – we will fight and we will win.

"All we have to prove is that houses have been devalued, which should not be hard with an ugly mast there and people's fears over health from the microwaves, as I am sure they will plummet.

"We are seeking legal advice and I have sent away for the Ombudsman's report in the Swindon case.

"From what I have learned so far, the circumstances are exactly the same.

"The council was going to reject the mast but failed to make its decision in time. Suffolk Coastal actually refused the mast in Coronation Drive but it was one day too late."

The similarities between the Felixstowe and Swindon cases are uncanny. They were both being refused because they would be seriously detrimental to the amenity of the neighbourhood. The Felixstowe one was also being refused because of health risk worries as it would send rays through children's bedrooms.

The Ombudsman found "maladministration causing injustice" at Swindon. He ordered independent valuations of the homes affected with and without the mast and the council was told to pay the difference – owners will get between £10,000 and £20,000.

Suffolk Coastal has admitted it had not given serious consideration to the interpretation of the 56-day rule, apologised for failing to make the decision in time and said a lesson has been learned for the future.

Council solicitors felt they could not take out an injunction as Hutchison 3G has a strong case for claiming it now had permission for the mast.

They are now waiting to see details of the Swindon Ombudsman case.

n What do you think – should the council pay compensation? Would you be worried about living near a mobile phone mast? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk


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