Fury over mobile phone unit near school

A PRIMARY headteacher last nightsaid she was outraged by a mobile telephone company which "failed" to inform her it planned to install a transmitter near her school.

A PRIMARY headteacher last nightsaid she was outraged by a mobile telephone company which "failed" to inform her it planned to install a transmitter near her school.

Margaret Owens, head at All Saints' School, Maldon, claimed that Orange never notified her and others of its plan to site a radio transmitter on top of a nearby water tower.

She also criticised Maldon District Council for its refusal to consult and for its apparent lack of interest in the health and safety of children at the school.

She said people had "grave" concerns about what effect microwave emissions from the installation could have on both young children and the elderly.

More than 100 families sent in letters to Orange and the council objecting to the siting of the mast on the concrete water tower in Cherry Garden Road – a little more than 100 metres from the school.

But a spokesman for Orange dismissed their concerns and questioned whether residents had seen any research better than that already carried out by Government scientists on the subject.

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Mrs Owens called a public meeting at the school to demonstrate the anger felt by elderly residents living in the area, but Clive Tokley, the council's planning officer responsible, could not attend.

She said: "The lack of consultation is absolutely appalling. I spoke to Mr Tokley and he said the potential health hazard to children and the elderly was not his remit.

"This is despite Government guidelines which state there should be a precautionary approach to mobile phone masts sited adjacent to areas where there are vulnerable people."

Mr Tokley insisted he had acted according to guidelines and the district council was powerless to act. He stressed it was not a mast that would be erected, but only a box of equipment hidden from the public eye on the ground.

"This type of planning application is already given by the Government," he said. As a council, we could only take a view on the appearance of the installation and in my opinion it is acceptable.

"I know there are a lot of people concerned about the safety, but the installers produced a certificate saying it was safe.

He added: "To my mind our authority does not have the power to object on those grounds anyway – that is something for the Health and Safety Executive.

"Therefore, under my delegated powers I approved the application."

Orange sent out letters to residents in May warning them of their plans, Mr Tokley said, but he acknowledged many people claimed they had never received them.

A spokesman for Orange last night dismissed residents' concerns. He said: "Orange is not aware of any research linking current mobile telephony with human ill-health.

"I wonder whether your campaigners know of any research that is better than that done by government scientists which concluded they were not dangerous."

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