Fears of phone mast close to schools

RESIDENTS are being rallied to protest against plans for a mobile phone mast which could be sited near three Essex schools.

Annie Davidson

RESIDENTS are being rallied to protest against plans for a mobile phone mast which could be sited near three Essex schools.

The application by O2 has been met with dismay by people living in Lexden Road and nearby Colchester County High School for Girls.

Planning officials at the borough council have been asked to approve the siting of the mast on a piece of grass at the junction of Norman Way and Lexden Road.

The 12-metre pole, which would be designed to look like a telegraph pole, is also close to St Benedict's College and St Mary's School.

Teresa Fox, of Colchester County High School for Girls, said she had written to parents urging them to contact the council's planning office and voice their concerns.

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She said: “We need 30 or 40 years to pass before we know the possible harm masts could do.

“Of course we all hope they are perfectly safe but until then surely it is common sense to keep them away from children.

“We have received letters from parents who are doctors, engineers or even people who work in telecommunications who have said we simply don't know therefore we should be following the Government's own research body and keeping masts away from schools.”

Phil and Joyce Allan, of Lexden Road, have been delivering letters to their neighbours and residents in the surrounding area encouraging them to object about the application.

Mrs Allan said: “We have only got 14 days (to write in) and so we have asked people to contact the council.

“I think we have no idea what masts do, it is said they are perfectly safe but we have three schools in the immediate vicinity and with all the children who are then around here, it is not a good thing.

“It is the thin end of the wedge, if one mast is allowed then what is to say another one won't be put up too?”

She added that the proposed mast was designed to look like a telegraph pole but all the phone lines in the area were underground so it would not blend in.

Tim Stevenson, communications manager for O2, said yesterday: “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 about it.”

Mr Stevenson said O2 “always listened to customers” but in this instance had only been contacted by two people who were unhappy about the application.

He added the company had written to the objectors but were yet to receive a reply.

Responses to the application must be with Colchester Borough Council by Friday after which a decision will be made.

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