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Householders' victory in phone mast battle
Wales Created: 13 Feb 2009
A PLAN to build a mobile phone mast near homes has been thrown out by councillors.

Vodafone UK had applied to build a 13-metre mast next to the Lidl supermarket, in Trallwn Road, Llansamlet.

However, after members of Swansea Council's area one development control committee had visited the site, they rejected the company's application.

According to a report presented to councillors, the mast would be around 35 metres from the nearest home.

The decision was almost unanimous. No member voted against Councillor Dennis James's proposal to reject the plan but three councillors abstained.

During the debate on the application, committee members slammed the proposal — the third application for a mobile phone mast in the vicinity. Council planners had rejected similar proposals in 2003.

Ward member June Evans said: "I am very disappointed to see this again. It is the third attempt in almost the same area.

"People are very angry that this has come up again — would you want it near your house?"

Councillor John Hague said: "As far as I am concerned, they have tried it a few times and nothing has changed. It is still the same area."

Councillor James said: "I don't understand why this is up before us again. Councillor Evans and I have dealt with this on two previous occasions. It never should have come before us again," he added.

Several councillors questioned the perceived health risks of mobile phone masts.

Councillor Hague said: "There is no guarantee that there is no damage to health."

Members of the committee rejected the application by 10 votes to one, before approving Councillor James's motion of rejection on the grounds the mast would be "detrimental to the street scene".
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Source: South Wales Evening Post, 12 Feb 2009

Six Bells residents to stage phone mast protest
Wales Created: 20 Jan 2009
PROTESTERS will gather outside Blaenau Gwent council’s planning offices in opposition to plans to build a mobile phone mast 70 metres from a Six Bells primary school.

Members of Six Bells Against the Mast Action group say they are worried about the safety of their children and are concerned about the effect the mast could have on their children’s health.

Blaenau Gwent council's planning officers will meet with representatives from Vodafone on Thursday to ask them to consider siting the mast further away from Bryngwyn Primary School. The council granted planning permission for the ten-metre high lattice mast on September 15.

Members of the planning committee said they were unable to refuse planning permission on the grounds of health concerns due to government planning guidance.

Phone companies say there is no proven threat to health from phone masts.

The action group will meet outside the planning offices in Blaina at 11am on Thursday and will remain there for an hour.
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Source: South Wales Argus, 20 Jan 2009

Councillor voices concerns over phone mast plan
Wales Created: 6 Dec 2008
A NEATH councillor has voiced concerns that his ward could end up “clustered with masts” if the latest in a string of proposals gets the go-ahead.

As the Guardian went to press, Neath Port Talbot Councillors were in a planning meeting to discuss a bid by Vodafone for a phone mast in Cimla.

The application includes proposals to site a 3G phone mast near Crynallt Infant and Junior schools, approximately 16.5 metres away from an existing Telefonica O2 mast on land between Ash Grove and Afan Valley Road.

A report by planing officers recommended approval with one condition, for the development to begin before the five-year expiration date.

But Coun John Warman, who represents the ward, said he was not happy with the recommendation.

“The schools don’t like it and neither do the residents,” he said. “We’re going to end up clustered with masts if we’re not careful.”

A total of 70 properties surrounding the area were consulted, with only six raising objections.

Last month, the Guardian reported that governors at two schools in the area – Crynallt Junior School and Cefn Saeson Comprehensive – had raised objections to the plans.

Objectors to phone masts claim they can cause radiation linked to cancer and leukaemia.

But the report noted that the international company had conformed with the ICNIRP Public Exposure Guidelines.

It said: “Where proposals meet these guidelines, PPW (planning policy wales) advises that it should not be necessary for a local planning authority to consider further the health aspects and concerns about them.”

Coun Warman added: “The report doesn’t mention the schools’ objections, it doesn’t say an awful lot.

“We’ve had a petition come in over the weekend with the names of 36 people from the area who may be affected.”

He added that he would like councillors to vote for a site meeting at the planning committee, but was unsure as to which direction fellow councillors would go.

Proposals for the current O2 mast were initially rejected by Neath Port Talbot Council five years ago following an 800-name petition from the local community.

But its construction went ahead in August 2003 after the Assembly overturned the decision on appeal.
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Source: WalesOnline, Rachel Moses, 04 Dec 2008

Pupils fight Six Bells mast plan
Wales Created: 28 Nov 2008
MORE than 200 people braved heavy rainfall in Six Bells yesterday to protest against a proposed mobile phone mast, which will be located 70 metres from a nearby primary school.

Pupils at Bryngwyn Primary School, their parents and local residents, marched from the school on Bryngwyn Road to the site of the proposed mast on Cwm Farm Road.

The protesters holding handmade placards urged mobile phone company Vodafone to reconsider their plans to build the mast so close to the school and complained about a lack of consultation from the company.

The chairman of the “Six Bells Against the Mast” action group, Nigel Bard, whose eight-year-old daughter Caitlin attends Bryngwyn Primary said: “It seems that the bad weather has not put anyone off coming here today, but that is because this issue is such a concern to so many people in the area.

“We are all concerned about the safety of our children and no-one knows for certain the risks these phone masts pose to our health.”

Catherine Edwards who has two children at the school, Calum, ten, and Alannah, six, said: “I don’t want it here at all as I believe it will be a health risk.

“There are plenty of other places the mast could be placed, so I don’t know why it has to be so close to the school.”

Blaenau Gwent council granted permission for the ten-metre lattice mobile phone mast on September 15.

The council’s planning committee said they were unable to refuse planning permission on grounds of health concerns due to government planning guidance.

Phone companies say there is no proven threat to health from phone masts.

Steve Smith, Head of Planning at Blaenau Gwent Council, said: “We have been hearing from parents and teachers at Bryngwyn Primary School about their concerns over the health of local children and the lack of consultation from Vodafone Ltd.

“We are in the process of talking to the company and have asked them to consider siting the mast further away from the school.”

The “Six Bells Against the Mast” Action Group will hold a public meeting at the school on December 11 at 6.30pm to discuss their future protest plans.

'Firm has followed rules'

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the radio base station at Cwm Farm Road, is required to improve the 3G coverage to their customers in the area and will provide them with access to mobile broadband with speeds similar to those offered by fixed line broadband suppliers.

She said: “We recognise that the local community is concerned regarding the deployment of this radio base station. All of our base stations are designed, built and operated in accordance with stringent international guidelines laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

“It is our target to completely install this base station by the end of the financial year.”
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Source: South Wales Argus, Alex Cinus, 28 Nov 2008

PHONE MASTS: 'IT'S TIME TO ACT'
Wales Created: 15 Oct 2008
A SURGE of phone mast public consultations have sparked fury.
In the last two months residents have gathered in protest to object to pre-planning applications for four different sites made by phone giant Vodafone. Sites included an area of green land next to a childrens' play area in Tanllwyfan, Old Colwyn, a residential area near Abergele Road and a play area used by generations of youngsters in Tan-y-Bryn Road, Rhos-on-Sea.

An action group, representatives from the Civic Society and local town and county councillors took to the streets in protest on Monday after a further site was targeted. The suggested residential area is located near an old church between Llandudno Road and Dinerth Road.

Phil Walker, Chairman of the Rhos-on-Sea Mast Protest Action Group expressed concern about health risks caused by long-term radiation exposure. He said: "Despite so-called conformity to safety guidelines, the effect of radiation from these new microwave radio transmitters faces widespread and increasing evidence to the contrary. The jury is still out and eminent scientist are now calling for caution."

Mono Consultant, who informed residents by letter stressed safety levels are below national guidelines and said everyday items including baby monitoring devices have radio fields.

AM for Clwyd West Darren Millar said: "There are question marks over the health implications and residents will be concerned. Some of the suggested sites have not been ideal for example near a church."
Llandudno-Dinerth Action Group member, Neil Moran described the plans as a "complete shock" and said residents have heard about plans through local councillors.

Mr Walker said: "Now is the time for caution, not when pregnant mothers, newly born babies, the young and the elderly are diagnosed with radiation-related cancer."

To put your views forward write to Michele Murphy, Mono Consultants Ltd, Victoria Buildings, 1-7 Princess Street, Manchester.
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Source: North Wales Poineer, 15 Oct 2008

Council dithering blamed for mast
Wales Created: 12 Oct 2008
A MOBILE firm says Swansea Council's dithering has once again resulted in a phone mast going up — despite the scheme being refused planning permission.

Vodafone bosses claim they did not receive an official notice in time, which ruled a transmitter in Gorseinon was not allowed to go ahead.

Residents, who say the mast is too near homes and fear it could damage their health, are furious.

Hazel Stock's Lime Street home is just 15 metres behind the towering mast.

She said: "If this mast has been allowed to stay up because of an administrative error then I am really angry. This mast is too close to residential areas and clearly should not be allowed to have been put up."

The plans for the 49ft tall mast, based in the grounds of Gorseinon RFC, have met with fierce opposition since they were first made public last year.

A petition was signed by hundreds in the community and objections were raised by the town council too.

People living near the mast said it would knock thousands of pounds off the value of their homes. And Gorseinon Infants School, which is just a few yards from the site, also voiced its fears over possible risks to health.

Last December, Swansea Council's planning committee refused to give planning permission.

But come August, locals were baffled when they saw contractors putting up the six-antennae mast.

Last month the work was finished.

And Vodafone insists it is in the right.

A spokesman said: "For a decision notice to be valid, the local planning authority must follow a two-stage process.

"They must firstly confirm whether their prior approval is required, or not. If it is required then they must give their decision on whether it is approved or refused. Swansea Council did not follow this process and we did not receive a valid decision notice within the 56-day time limit and accordingly we believe that we have planning consent."

Earlier this month, the Assembly's planning inspectorate said a phone mast in Townhill was allowed to stay because Swansea Council had missed a vital deadline by 24 hours.

Swansea Council, did not comment on whether a similar mistake had been made with the Gorseinon transmitter, but said it was Vodafone who were in the wrong.

A spokesman added: "We have recently issued a notice to the company requesting removal of the mast."
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Source: This Is South Wales, 12 Oct 2008

Anger over phone mast plans near schools
Wales Created: 7 Oct 2008
PLANNERS are urging a mobile phone company to reconsider plans to build a mast overlooking a Six Bells school.

Blaenau Gwent Council’s planning committee reluctantly approved the proposal, but members are urging Vodafone to reconsider where the tower will be built.

The committee has been left stuck between a rock and a hard place because members are unhappy with the planned location of the 10-metre tall mast, around 70 metres from Bryngwyn Primary School, but are unable to refuse planning permission on grounds of health concerns due to Government planning guidance.

Guidelines state that concerns about potential health dangers cannot be taken into account when deciding whether to allow a mast to be built.

Previous cases in other authorities, such as Torfaen, in which applications have been refused on health grounds resulted in appeals being lost and significant costs being awarded.

Instead, mobile phone companies are asked to consider aspects, such as proximity to a school, when applying for a mast to be built under the industry’s Code of Best Practice, which Blaenau Gwent’s head of planning Steve Smith believes has been largely ignored by Vodafone.

In a report presented to the planning committee, Mr Smith said: “I requested that Vodafone re-consider the siting as, in this case, the mast would be near a school.

“However Vodafone did not wish to enter discussions about re-siting the mast and, in my opinion, largely ignored the industry Code of Best Practice from the outset.”

In order to avoid potentially having to pay massive costs following an appeal, the planning committee had no choice but to approve the application.

But Mr Smith has now written to Vodafone officials, again imploring them to reconsider the site of the mast despite the approval being given.

In the letter he states: “This case is particularly sensitive given the proximity of the school.

“I am not aware of any consultation with residents or the school and your refusal to even consider an alternative site was particularly disappointing.

“You must acknowledge that the planning process is often the only forum where residents can voice concerns.

“In this context, your disregard of the Code of Best Practice does little to engender confidence from the general public.”

Members of the planning committee commended Mr Smith for his letter, to which he is yet to receive a reply.

Chairman of the committee Denzil Hancock said: “This company has come in through the back door.

“They need to reconsider siting this mast as far away from this school as possible.

“They need to think again, if in doubt, keep out.”
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Source: Gwent Gazette, Dominic Jones, 07 Oct 2008

New masts get a bad reception
Wales Created: 3 Oct 2008
THEY'VE been linked to everything from suicides in Bridgend to cancer in Bristol, and every time a phone company wants to install a mast near houses, schools and public places there's outcry.

The most recent furore has surrounded a mast installed by Vodafone in Townhill, despite Swansea Council planners voting to reject the company's application.

A delay of 24 hours in telling the company of the council's decision meant the installation could go ahead anyway.

Around 200 local people had signed a petition to stop the mast being built in the middle of a residential area. They were concerned about their and their children's health.

Campaigner Sarah Powell, of Dyfed Avenue, was the main drive behind the petition.

She said: "There's a fear that it could be a health risk. There's so many people who live in close proximity to the land.

"Councillors wouldn't want them in their back gardens, so why should we have them in ours?"

Residents in Gorseinon are also up in arms after Vodafone put up a mast in their community — allegedly without council permission.

Lime Street resident Hazel Stock watched in horror as the mast was being built 15 metres away from her house.

She said: "The feeling is one of disbelief. If we had been turned down by planning permission, we would have had to comply with it. But Vodafone has just gone ahead with it.

"We feel because they are a company they are overriding the residents' and council's wishes. The residents feel it is us versus the big business." But whether they are a blot on the landscape or not, what are the health risks associated with them?

This month, research was released which suggests children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones because of the type of radiation associated with them.

It is thought those under 20 are more susceptible to cancerous cells growing because their brains have not yet fully developed. The radiation from masts has also been linked to high levels of depression.

Roger Coghill, who sits on a Government advisory committee on mobile radiation, discovered that many of the youngsters who killed themselves in Bridgend lived far closer than average to a mast.

Dr Coghill said: "There is research that has, over the years, pointed to the fact that exposure to mobile radiation can lead to depression. There is evidence of higher suicide rates where people live near any electrical equipment that gives off radio or electrical waves."

But what about the other side of the argument? Many scientific bodies have dismissed fears mobile masts cause health problems.

Fears that masts on school buildings expose children to dangerous levels of radiation have been dismissed.

A study by the National Radiological Protection Board found that roofs soaked up the radiation emitted by masts, meaning that levels absorbed by children inside classrooms were very low.

The NRPB carried out tests on 118 different points at 17 sites — at masts near schools and outside offices and homes.

Simon Mann, one of the authors of the NRPB study, said: "There has been huge public concern over exposure to radio waves from base stations, and there was a real need for someone to produce some independent data that could be held up for everyone to see.

"We chose places to investigate where people were concerned about masts, but in all of them we found the levels of radiation were well within guidelines and not hazardous."

But whatever the research shows, one fact remains clear: whenever a mast is installed in a built-up area, the residents make as much noise as they can to get it taken away.

Campaigner John Charleston, who tried to stop O2 installing a mast in his native New Quay, Ceredigion, had the last word.

"Move the mast — end of story," he said.
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Source: South Wales Evening Post, 03 Oct 2008

Residents to stage protest over mast
Wales Created: 2 Sep 2008
A PROTEST against a future mobile phone mast has been organised after it was granted planning permission.

Residents plan to wave placards and banners opposing the O2 mast at its planned site in Heol Llanishen Fach, Rhiwbina, Cardiff, from 3.30pm on Wednesday, September 10.

Cardiff council granted permission for the mast even though about 400 people objected to it.

Campaigner Jane McCarthy, 54, of Heol Llanishen Fach, still hopes O2 might change its mind about the mast’s location.

She said: “There are five other suitable sites why choose this one when it’s so close to a school?”
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Source: South Wales Echo, David James, 02 Sep 2008

Phone giant 'sneaky'
Wales Created: 28 Aug 2008
Robert Dean of Wynn Avenue received a letter from planning company Mono Consultants giving residents 14 days to object to plans developed by phone giant Vodafone.

According to Mr Dean, the letter, which was sent to his home address, said the mast would be erected near the Aldi store on Abergele Road.
Furious Mr Roberts, who lives with his wife, daughter and granddaughter, stressed the mass could pose a "health hazard" for members of the community.

"They will put the phone mast up over my dead body," exclaimed Mr Roberts.
"They are trying to sneak it through. They have only informed the people who will see it. A friend of a friend died of a brain tumour and she lived near a phone mast."

Anti phone mast campaigners Mast Sanity confirmed that residents should be wary of a mast being installed.

A spokeswoman said: "They are right to be concerned. There is growing evidence of health risks concerned with phone signals below heating levels.
"In the UK the so called safety limits are ten times higher than most of the rest of the world. Here we can have 58 volts per mast, elsewhere it is just six volts per mast."

While the official National Radiological Protection Board report from June 2000 found phone mast levels did not exceed the safety limits, according to Mast Sanity thousands of academic investigations from around the world have found direct links between the electromagnetic fields generated by the masts, and health problems like breast cancer and brain tumours.

Conwy County Borough Councillor for Old Colwyn, Cllr Brian Cossey, said: "We do not want a phone mast. People will be concerned about health problems.
" The council's view is that companies should share phone masts, they should not put one near a residential area."

Keith Johnson from Moro Consultants stated that the siting of a phone mast is currently just a proposal, and a planning application will be submitted if there are no objections.
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Source: North Wales Pioneer, Anna Glover & David Waddington, 28 Aug 2008

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