Fears over phone mast near school

PUBLISHED: 15:45 13 September 2007 | UPDATED: 21:48 29 May 2010

The site where the mobile phone mast is proposed. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The site where the mobile phone mast is proposed. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

TEACHERS and governors have strongly objected to plans to build a 15-metre high phone mast just yards from their school. People living and working in the area around the site were notified about the planning application in a letter from Uttlesford Distric

TEACHERS and governors have strongly objected to plans to build a 15-metre high phone mast just yards from their school.

People living and working in the area around the site were notified about the planning application in a letter from Uttlesford District Council (UDC) dated Monday, September 3.

Titled 'Development by telecommunications system operators land adjacent to roundabout on Stortford Road, Great Dunmow, CM6 1SG' the letter made no mention of the company proposing to erect the mast, or its precise location.

It turns out the location of the new mast would be on land owned by the Essex

County Council Highways department, adjacent to the roundabout on the junction of Stortford Road and the B1256 Dunmow By-pass.

The company making the application is mobile phone provider and broadband suppliers Orange.

The company already has two masts in the town,

one by Sun Bank, the other just 500m along the Stortford Road at the Woodside Park roundabout.

Great Dunmow Primary School is about 20 yards away from the proposed site.

Silvie Ruck, headteacher, said: "There is widespread concern about the effects of electric and magnetic field exposure (EMF) and an understanding that such installations will not be placed near schools.

"It is on this principal the school will be writing to UDC objecting to any mast in such close proximity."

Her words were echoed by school governor Chris Figg who said: "We are strongly opposed to the building of the mast because of health and safety issues."

Regarding their concerns Martin Grey, government and community relations manager for Orange, said: "The science on this issue

is reassuring.

"There have now been more than 30 independent expert review reports published during the past six years including two by the UK Health Protection Agency.

"The measurements from these audits show that emission levels from base stations are typically small."

Cllr Norman Hume, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "Essex County Council has been approached by the mobile telephone company Orange PCS to place a mast on our property.

"As mobile phone masts are designated as 'statutory apparatus' under the Telecommunication Mast (Planning Control) Act, the council has no powers to refuse the application when it is submitted."

UDC has also said that it may not be able to refuse permission to build the mast because the Town and County Planning Order of 1995, allows some phone equipment to be installed without planning permission

UDC senior planning officer Katherine Benjafield, said: "This is not an application for planning permission; it is an application to determine whether prior approval of the siting and appearance of the proposed equipment is required or not.

"If there are grounds to refuse the application based on the proposed siting and appearance of the equipment, the local planning authority can refuse the determination."

Mr Grey, the spokesman for Orange, added: "Orange is taking forward a 15m replacement site on Stortford Road to maintain essential network coverage to the many public and private sector organisations, private customers and visitors to the area who choose Orange to keep in contact, deliver public services or do business."

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