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Mast protest appears to be in vain

PUBLISHED: 06:25 24 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

RESIDENTS threatened with the prospect of a mobile phone mast on their doorstep have demanded the telecom company looks for another site – despite the firm saying it will go ahead.

RESIDENTS threatened with the prospect of a mobile phone mast on their doorstep have demanded the telecom company looks for another site – despite the firm saying it will go ahead.

Hutchison 3G has permission to put up a 10-metre mast on land at the corner of Lethe Grove and Berechurch Hall Road in Colchester only metres from homes.

But yesterday, an angry group managed to prevent engineers from beginning work on the site by standing on the ground where the mast would be.

They also parked cars there to ensure there could be no progress for Hutchison.

However, after discussions with the protesters, Mike Davies, the regional community affairs manager for Hutchison, declared the mast would still be going up in the coming weeks.

Among the protesters were a group of women from Lethe Grove who claimed their children were also vehemently opposed to the plan.

Christine McCarron voiced concerns over possible health implications, adding: "They have not made enough enquiries into other sites."

There are also concerns that the mast could now be permanent rather than a temporary structure.

Hutchison had applied to Colchester Borough Council for planning permission to put up the mast, but because the council did not answer in the required time, the company gained automatic permission.

At the site, Terry Sutton, Colchester borough councillor for the Berechurch ward, where the mast would be located, confronted Mr Davies and claimed his company had not handled residents' concerns well.

Steve McQuoid, representing the residents of Lethe Grove, celebrated the decision of Hutchison to leave without making any progress at the site.

He said: "People have taken time off work to be here today which is great to see. Hutchison have made no attempt to talk to the people on Lethe Grove about this mast which will stand way higher than the houses here."

He said that ultimately the mast could force his family to move, although he feared it would decrease the value of his house.

Mr Davies declared Hutchison would move the cars from the site and said the mast would still go ahead.

"There will be a mast built here on this site as we will be continuing to go ahead with our plan", he said.

He said they had looked at alternative sites but none were suitable.

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