A NEW mobile phone mast that courted much controversy in Belper has been built – despite objections from residents, a school and the town’s MP.
Furious locals began a campaign in March after Amber Valley Borough Council passed plans for a mast on the corner of Laund Nook and Marsh Lane, next to a playground and recreation area.
One resident, Mike Handley, of Pilsley Close, set up a website opposing the mast, while Tory MP Pauline Latham sent letters to mobile phone giants Vodafone and O2 urging them to meet with her and residents before the mast was built.
Nearby St John’s Primary School also voiced its dismay at the proposals, with some parents and school representatives joining residents in forming the Belper Against the Mast (BAM) group.
The group wanted Vodafone and O2, and the borough council, to reconsider where the mast was to be located.
But it was all to no avail because on Wednesday, June 22, in little more than an hour and a half by 7.30am, before most people had got out of bed, the 13.8 metres high 3G mast had been erected.
A spokeswoman for BAM said: “We are extremely disappointed that the mast has gone up in this surreptitious way. The council let us down, and Vodafone and O2 have treated us contemptuously.
“This mast is not only a public eyesore but also has the potential to have a seriously detrimental effect on community life. We know several parents who have made it clear that they no longer will allow their children to play on the rec.”
BAM claims neither Vodafone nor O2 complied with the telecommunications industry’s code of best practice, in particular when consulting the community and the school over the plans, the firms deny this saying they have followed proper procedures.
BAM also slammed the borough council, saying the authority simply accepted the companies’ word that they had complied with industry guidelines.
Cllr Jim Anderson, who is chairman of the council’s planning board, declined to comment on the matter, saying: “As chairman of the planning board, it would be unreasonable for me to make any comment about it.”
Dr Peter Blunsdon, head teacher at the school, said: “We are disappointed. Given the strength of feeling that has come about in this part of Belper, it just seems that local democracy has been shot to pieces really. But the fight still goes on.”
BAM is now searching for residents who live within a 700-metre radius of the mast to take part in an epidemiological study to determine whether there are any health effects from the mast in the coming months and years.
To contact the group, go to www.facebook.com/stop-the-mast-belper.
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