Mast Campaign Gathers Steam

IF YOU want to see examples of active citizenship then look no further than Chafford Hundred. The campaign: “No Masts on Chafford” has been led by resident Tracy Law. Her attention to detail has been remarkable.

Letters of complaint have been pouring into Thurrock Council from concerned residents as well as businesses in the area.

There is a public meeting at 1.30pm on Saturday February 20th at Chafford Campus.

Here is the latest news from the website.

No Masts On Chafford announce our success of securing a “Red Status” for our area. This will dictate a Public Consultation. We will publish more information here as it becomes available.

24th Feb 2010
Public Meeting of the Council where “No Masts On Chafford” will present a written and online petition to object against the erection of mobile phone masts on Chafford Hundred. No Masts On Chafford will also be speaking on behalf of local residents.

20th Feb 2010
Public Meeting: Chafford Campus, 1:30pm – 2:30pm hosted by No Masts On Chafford, more information to follow.

10th Feb 2010
The following message is received from the Head Teacher at Warren Primary School (Lynda Pritchard).

“We have not been consulted at all about anything.”

No Masts On Chafford forwarded the message to Councillor Hague at Thurrock Borough Council, who has replied “I have forwarded this on to Pat Bannister who is investigating and whom will respond to you in due course.”

10th Feb 2010
Thurrock Borough Council advise that “Pat Bannister is investigating this matter.”
Phone: 01375 390000
Email: pbannister@thurrock.gov.uk (email address not confirmed).

09th Feb 2010
Local resident Neil Charley writes the following letter of complaint to Thurrock Borough Council:-

I am writing to express the grave concerns of fellow residents on Chafford Hundred in relation to the pending planning application No 10/00070/RDG by O2 for a forty-one foot mobile phone mast to be sited behind 47 Felipe Road on Fenner Road.

Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives. Whilst I appreciate that phone masts are needed to facilitate better reception and technological developments, careful consideration should be given to their location to minimise intrusion whilst safeguarding the welfare of local residents. We already have a mobile phone mast on Chafford Hundred and one located on Heron Way, which is very close to the proposed site. There is no evidence that the residents are demanding more masts. Moreover, no data has been provided to justify the installation.

The mast that is being proposed is unsuitable for the following reasons:

1. Stewart Report/Warren Primary School – In 2000 the Government commissioned the Stewart Report, to examine safety concerns over mobile phone masts. The report, which still forms the basis of Government policy, concluded that there may be health risks posed by masts and advised against siting them close to schools. Therefore, the application (and any planning approval) is in direct contradiction of government policy with close proximity of Warren Primary school. Also, we point to the DOH Mobile and Phones guidance http://www.dh.gov.uk/dr_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/documents/digitalasset/dh_4123981.pdf. The UK Chief Medical Officers strongly advise that where children and young people do use mobile phones, they should be encouraged to: use mobile phones for essential purposes only keep all calls short – talking for long periods prolongs exposure and should be discouraged. The UK CMOs recommend that if parents want to avoid their children being subject to any possible risk that might be identified in the future, the way to do so is to exercise their choice not to let their children use mobile phones. Therefore, whilst local parents can exercise their own discretion to follow the Department of Health’s published guidance; the radiation from masts radiation is intrusive and involuntary – which cannot be controlled by parents.

2. The Precautionary Principle as per European Law – Given the location situated feet from homes and close to Warren Primary School, Just Learning Nursery and two play areas, it fails to recognise the potential health issue. Therefore, it is difficult to understand how do the proposals fit within the Precautionary Principle which is set-out in European Law? Please remember, two reasons, “proof” of harm is not a requirement for precautionary action. First, by definition, preventive measures cannot be based on identifying harm that has already occurred. Second, criteria for establishing the “proof” of a cause-and-effect relationship are, by convention, rigorous and difficult to fulfil. As a result, when “proof” of harm has been established considerable damage will already have occurred that may have otherwise been avoidable.

3. Visual intrusion – it will be seen from everywhere on Chafford Hundred and will blight the area. Moreover, the proposed installation will add to an already cluttered skyline and deny some homes of their only unobstructed view.

4. Health Concerns – Chafford Hundred is a densely populated area. To locate such a monster mast within our community and close proximity of Warren Primary School would be tantamount to a callous disregard for the health and welfare of Chafford Hundred residents. Also, I direct you back to the points within Point 1 and 2 in terms of minimising potential risk. Also, I quote:

Professor David Starkey – was Vice Chairman of the Stewart Report – 2009
“young people are already known to be more susceptible to the effects of ultraviolet radiation and air pollution”

Dr Starkey, Neuroscientist, PhD London University, 2009

“enough is known now to take action to limit exposure in schools, hospitals and public places…The public deserve to be informed of the risks and governments should be taking steps to protect the public from involuntary exposure.”

5. Adverse impact on house prices – If mobile phone masts were that desirable everybody would be demanding for them to sited in their backyards. The possibility of a negative impact on the value of house prices in the immediate vicinity make this an issue not to be complacent about, given the recent economic downturn and could well lead to issues such as negative equity – this needs be avoided – as it could initiate socioeconomic problems into the community .

6. Lack of Consultation – The change in the Site acquisition TLM status from “amber” to “red” agreed by Neil Charley (local resident) and O2 means there needs to be a full public consultation. In addition, under guidelines set by the Deputy Prime Ministers Office, schools are supposed to be consulted on any mast installation close by – the school has stated no request for consultation was ever received. What’s more, O2 failed to follow best practice in ensuring any request for information was directed to appropriate named person.

I trust that the challenges I have highlighted above will receive your full consideration and will conclude in the 02 mast application in Fenner Road being rejected.

Thank you for your anticipated assistance.

Yours Faithfully,
Neil Charley.

09th Feb 2010
Receive the following response from Thurrock Borough Council:-

The two applications are for ‘Prior Approval’, as opposed to full Planning Applications. With a ‘Prior Approval’ application the Council has 56 days in which to determine the application, otherwise the masts can be put up by default. The date of the Agents letter for each application is 25th January, albeit the ‘date received’ identified on the computer system is 28 Jan. Thereby, erring on the side of caution, the 56 day date (taken with 25th Jan as starting date) is 21 March 2010.

Within this 56 day period, the Council is required to allow 21 days for neighbours to make any comments. The original neighbour letters were sent out on 29 January (i.e. 21 days = 19 February). The masts were advertised in the Thurrock Gazette dated 5 February (i.e. 21 days = 26 February). Site notices were erected on 8 February and additional neighbours identified (i.e. 21 days = 1 March). In practice, any neighbour comments will be accepted up to the date of decision at Committee.

The applications have been called into Planning Committee. The next available Planning Committee is 11 March 2010. An initial draft of the Committee Report should be with me by 23 February. The Committee Agenda will be published on 4 March 2010. Again, in practice neighbour letters are accepted up to the date of Planning Committee where Members will be verbally updated on any further representations received.

The Highways team have been consulted on the applications. Their comments are awaited.

As the applications are for ‘Prior Approval’, they have been submitted under Part 24 of Schedule 2 of the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, 1995, as amended by the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order, 2001. The relevant legislation permits the Local Planning Authority to only consider the siting and appearance of the proposed development.

Although the Authority may receive representations about the alleged impact of proposed telecommunications development on property values, PPS 1 (national government guidance) notes that it is not for the planning system to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another. The material question is not whether a particular development would cause financial or other loss to owners and occupiers of neighbouring properties, but whether the proposal would have a detrimental effect on the locality generally, and on amenities that ought, in the public interest, to be protected.

Government guidance in PPG 8 (which specifically deals with telecommunication development) indicates that the firm view is that the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards. It remains central Government’s responsibility to decide what measures are necessary to protect public health. In the Governments view, if a proposed mobile phone base station meets the ICNIRP guidelines for public exposure it should not be necessary for a local planning authority, in processing an application for planning permission or one for prior approval, to consider further the health aspects and concerns about them.

Each of the applications submitted is accompanied by the appropriate ICNIRP Certification. Therefore, a refusal of permission on the grounds of the effects on health aspect could not be substantiated.

I trust that this information is of assistance to you. If you require any further information on this matter, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Andy Millard
(Head of Strategic Planning and Delivery)
Phone: 01375 390000
Email: amillard@thurrock.gov.uk (email address not confirmed).

08th Feb 2010
James Stevenson at O2 confirms that both sites have now moved from “Amber” to “Red” on the TLM for site acquisition which guarantees a full public consultation. Additionally, James proposes a visit to the two sites to understand our concerns in more detail.

08th Feb 2010
Neil Charley writes to O2:-
Applicant
Mr Ronan Dunne CEO
Telefonica O2 UK Ltd
260 Bath Road
Slough
SL1 4DX

Agent
Mr Ben Venus
Knapp, Hicks & Partners
c/o O2 UK Limited
The Colonnades
Beaconsfield Court
Beaconsfield
AL10 8YE

Planning Applications:
♣ Mast Proposed at Fenner Road 10/00070/RDG
♣ Mast Proposed at the Junction of Clockhouse Lane and Warren Lane 10/00072/RDG

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