500 oppose Colchester phone mast plan

RESIDENTS, pupils and teachers are set to descend en masse to a planning meeting tonight after a controversial application for a mobile phone mast was recommended for the green light.

James Hore

RESIDENTS, pupils and teachers are set to descend en masse to a planning meeting tonight after a controversial application for a mobile phone mast was recommended for the green light.

About 500 people have written to voice their dismay about a proposal for the mast in Colchester which is close to three schools.

Communications giant O2 is hoping to get the go-ahead for the 12-metre mast, disguised as a telegraph pole, on a piece of grassland at the junction of Norman Way and Lexden Road.


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Officers have recommended that councillors on the planning committee give the go-ahead when they meet at Colchester Town Hall tonight.

The three schools in the area are Colchester County High School for Girls, St Benedict's College and St Mary's School and the number of people expected to attend the meeting has led the council to switch to the larger Moot Hall.

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Teresa Fox, a teacher at Colchester County High School for Girls, said the go-ahead of the mast would set a worrying precedent for other schools.

She said: “It is like smoking or asbestos - where it could be years before any physical effects are seen.

“We hope that the children will be safe - but until enough years have passed, until we no longer have a gap in the knowledge, it makes sense to keep the masts away from children who have thinner skulls, will spend a longer number of years being affected by any radiation and whose nervous systems are still developing.”

Objectors writing to the council claimed the mast was too large and obtrusive, would obstruct views at a busy junction and would have a “detrimental impact” on the character and appearance of the area.

Tim Stevenson, communications manager for O2, told the EADT last month: “We have got a lot of customers using our network and we have got to accommodate those customers coming onto the network and we have got to have the capacity in the network to give a signal.

“The signal in that area is not poor at the moment but it will become fairly poor over the coming months if we don't do something.”

The planning report concluded the mast design was acceptable, alternative sites had been considered and there was a “hole” in the network coverage whilst the opposition did not outweigh local policy or Government guidance.

The council's planning committee meeting meets at Colchester Town Hall tonight at 6pm.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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