Villagers overlooked’ on T-Mobile proposal

A MOBILE phone mast proposal has turned a Huntingdonshire village incandescent with anger as those living nearest the site found out about the plans only by accident. The matter has now been taken up by Jonathan Djanogly MP who said yesterday he was writi

A MOBILE phone mast proposal has turned a Huntingdonshire village incandescent with anger as those living nearest the site found out about the plans only by accident.

The matter has now been taken up by Jonathan Djanogly MP who said yesterday he was writing to Huntingdonshire District Council to ask exactly where the mast will be and how his constituents will be affected.

This week, protest leaflets were being delivered to every home in Great Paxton as part of a fierce campaign against the 20-metre construction - the height of five double-decker buses.

Nearby residents say they were "overlooked" when letters about the proposals, which would see the mast built at Paxton Hill by T-Mobile, were sent out by HDC, and have vowed to defeat the planning application.

Similar applications during the past year from Orange for a mast in nearby Little Paxton were rejected by both Little Paxton Parish Council and Huntingdonshire District Council.

Lee Johnson, whose home on Paxton Hill is 30 metres from the proposed mast, said: "The farmer on whose land this is to be sited has 100 acres, so why does [the mast] have to be so near people's houses? It is nonsensical to site this near homes. This is another instance of a giant corporation putting its commercial interests in front of the concerns of local residents. There are health risks, albeit unproven. But unquantified risks are still risks."

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His wife, Lynn, added: "We are in a rural setting so they think no one will object. Because we are a small community, our opinions don't seem to matter."

Their next-door neighbour, Fleur Bateman, whose home is nearest to the mast, has three children, is a childminder to two more, and runs a bed and breakfast business.

She said: "I was mortified that we were not told about this. The planning officer told me that it was an administrative error and that we had been overlooked and I have written to the district council to complain."

Mrs Bateman added: "The parents of the children I childmind have said they will remove them if the mast goes up. We are devastated by this. I cannot stress enough how worried I am."

A spokesman for HDC said there was no statutory requirement for a local planning authority to notify neighbours of the receipt of a planning application. However, the council did notify immediate neighbours, but on this occasion some homes were left out.

The council would not say how many objections had been received so far.

Barrie Taylor-Smith, spokesman for T-Mobile, said the mast needed to be near a road for its power supply. He said base stations (or masts) worked well within health limit guidelines.

"We need a phone mast in Paxton Hill because there is a gap in our network," he said. "In rural areas we need one every kilometre and the fact that this one is 20 metres high cuts down how many we will need because it will cover a large area."

Glynn Osborne, the farmer on whose land the mast would be sited, said he did not wish to comment.

INFORMATION: Great Paxton Parish Council will discuss the proposal at a meeting, open to the public, in the Community Room on Monday at 8pm.

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