Residents defeat in mega mast battle
FAMILIES in Felixstowe trying to stop a "mega mast" for mobile phones being put up near their homes have lost their battle.The mast – nearly three times the height of houses in the area – has been given the go-ahead by Suffolk Coastal council despite 60 objections.
FAMILIES in Felixstowe trying to stop a "mega mast" for mobile phones being put up near their homes have lost their battle.
The mast - nearly three times the height of houses in the area - has been given the go-ahead by Suffolk Coastal council despite 60 objections.
Protesters voiced fears over potential long-term health risks from the 25-metre high mast, and worries over the closeness of a school.
They also said the mast, to be put up on land Walton Avenue, Felixstowe, just yards from homes in Nacton, Orford, Levington and Beach Station Roads, would be an eyesore and should be located within the port complex.
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Gridcom, a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Grid Transco, is to construct the mast to hold three antennae and four dishes at the Transco Gasholder Station for telecommunications company Orange.
The company's aim is to set up a countrywide network of masts from its gas plants and electricity transmission towers for telecom companies.
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Liberal Democrat councillors argued that it would be like "living under an umbrella sending out rays" and people should not have masts imposed on them and the equipment should be limited to edge-of-town sites.
There were already three other masts in the immediate area - one at the Beach Station-Langer Road traffic lights 100 yards away.
A report to the district council's south development control sub committee said the government felt it was not planners' job to determine health issues connected with mobile phone masts.
"If a proposed mobile phone base station meets the guidelines for public exposure it should not be necessary for the local planning authority, in processing an application for planning permission or prior approval, to consider further the health effects and concerns about them," said the report.
"The proposed location of the mast is considered to be acceptable against the backdrop of the docks and immediately adjacent container depots.
"The applicants have indicated that they are willing to include landscaping if considered necessary. The provision of landscaping would help reduce the impact of the mast at the lower level and would be in accordance with the aims of policy in enhancing the appearance of the area."
Despite government reassurances, there are still huge worries over the health effects of masts. Researchers at the University of Essex are currently embarking on a £250,000 study to look at the effect of electromagnetic fields generated by the aerials on people's physiological and psychological well-being.
n Are you worried about having mast near to your home? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk