Small victory in phone mast battle

RESIDENTS are celebrating a small victory in their battle to remove an aerial mast after council officials refused to grant retrospective planning permission for the antennae.

RESIDENTS are celebrating a small victory in their battle to remove an aerial mast after council officials refused to grant retrospective planning permission for the antennae.

East Cambridgeshire District Council is now considering issuing an enforcement notice to telecommunications company BT Airwave, asking for the removal of the Tetra mast on Newmarket Town's football club ground.

A 100-name petition, campaigning for the antennae's removal, was complied by residents living near the Cricket Field Road site, who fear the mast, which was put up near homes and schools without the required planning permission, may lead to potential health problems.

East Cambridgeshire District Council's planning committee meeting on Wednesday , agreed the mast, for use by the police, had been erected inappropriately, and refused an application for retrospective permission following a site visit.


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"Whilst the local authority accepts that the police force required a new communications system, it is considered that this mast is not the appropriate siting for such equipment," read an officer's background report into the retrospective application.

"Installing equipment without the appropriate consent has increased the fears of local residents to a level where they have no confidence that the development is safe."

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Mark Ede, from BT Airwave, said although the company remained committed to reaching a compromise with members of the community, an appeal against the planning committee's decision could be lodged.

"We are still looking to see if there are any alternative sites for the mast, because we have already made that commitment to the community. And if members of the community can help us, or have any suggestions, we will look at them.

"But we will also consider if we need to appeal against the decision relating to the existing site, as we cannot jeopardise the service provided to the police – the mast is essential to that."

BT originally put up a standard mobile phone mast on the land, but changed it to a Tetra mast, needed by police for their new digital radio service, in February.

The move angered both residents and West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, who successfully campaigned for the removal of a similar mast after it was installed on top of flats at Icewell Hill, Newmarket.

Mr Spring, who led the original fight, said: "It is an absurd situation whereby the Tetra mast was simply removed from one part of Newmarket and moved to another.

"I hope that without any shadow of doubt the planners insist this Tetra mast is taken down. There are two schools close to this mast – neither of which was ever consulted.

A spokesman for East Cambridgeshire District Council said a further meeting will be held to decide if an enforcement notice will be issued to BT Airwave, requesting it to remove the mast.

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