PLANS to site a phone mast next to a busy main road in Thurrock have been rejected by Borough planning councillors.
At Thursday’s planning committee meeting the application for a 12.5m mast in Chadwell St Mary to carry antennas for O2 and Vodafone didn’t get a good reception from councillors, who responded to a 250 signature petition and objection from residents by refusing ‘prior approval’.
They heard the plan was to install the mast and an equipment box on land adjacent to the Emmanuel Church, Sleepers Farm Road.
However, it sent the wrong signals to local man Peter Saunders, who addressed the meeting on behalf of Chadwell St Mary Parochial Church Council
He said: “We oppose this not just because of the effect on the church but also because it is right in front of the windows of the homes in Handley House where residents will find the mast slap bang in the middle of their view.
“We also question the impact it will have on the access of emergency vehicles to Handley House and on existing underground cabling.
“And that is leaving aside any health issues, which apparently do not exist.”
Local councillor Barbara Rice, also spoke up against the plan, saying: “This is not in keeping with the surrounding street scene. And we currently have problems with the nearby Virgin Media mast which is being vandalised and this might attract more.
“This is an unsightly eyesore and by approving it the Council might be leaving themselves wide open to litigation by granting permission to something when evidence is starting to emerge that there could be serious health issues.
“Other countries and councils have adopted prudent avoidance of siting these masts nears schools and communities.
“The residents of Chadwell St Mary are not prepared to have this mast situated in their neighbourhood.”
The emotive rhetoric influenced committee members to reject the application, despite a recommendation for approval from their officers.
Cllr Steve Liddiard issued a note of caution, saying: “If we keep turning these down we will be seen as a Borough that isn’t interested in technology.”
Cllr Gerard Rice was less worried about implications, saying: “This is a busy road and there is a risk associated with it. The people behind this have not thought it through.”
Committee chairman Terry Hipsey was also concerned about the impact on trees close to the site of the mast, fearing their roots would be disturbed and saying: “I wouldn’t want to put the health of a healthy tree at risk. I don’t think this is an appropriate site.”